Date of this Version
We surveyed 62 hunting clubs in the batture of the Mississippi River in Arkansas and Mississippi to determine the extent and severity of black bear (Ursus americanus) damage. Bear damage was more prevalent in Arkansas (70.6%) than in Mississippi (11.8%). Damage to deer- stands was most common (43.8%), followed by damage to buildings (22.9%), getting in garbage (12.5%) and damage to wildlife food plots (10.4%). Cost estimates of bear damage averaged approximately $40 per incident over the past 5 years. Most (90.9%) clubs rated bear damage as either a slight nuisance or not important at this time, and half have taken no preventive measures to reduce such damage. However, only 18.5% of clubs experiencing frequent damage favored increasing local bear populations, whereas 66.7% of clubs with little or no damage were in favor of increasing local populations. Future management strategies for black bears in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley should include effective public relations and education programs to help minimize potentially negative public opinion of bears in the region.