Inspiration for Teddy Bears No Longer Endangered

Louisiana black bear has bounced back
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 5:02 AM CST
Updated Mar 11, 2016 6:36 AM CST
Inspiration for Teddy Bears No Longer Endangered
A Louisiana black bear is seen in a water oak tree in Marksville, La.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

After decades of barely clinging on as a species, the bear that inspired teddy bears has bounced back. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced on Thursday that the Louisiana black bear—which appeared in the famous "Teddy's bear" political cartoon after Teddy Roosevelt refused to shoot a tied-up one in 1902—has been taken off both the threatened and endangered species list after a population increase from as few as 80 in 1959 to up to 750 today, the Christian Science Monitor reports. In what authorities say should serve as an example to other areas, the bear rebounded with the help of habitat restoration and wildlife corridors that connected different populations of the bear subspecies, which once ranged all the way from eastern Texas to eastern Mississippi.

Jewell praised the "recovery of a species," though the AP notes that some groups think the move is premature. "The work's not over," Jewell told reporters. "The work's really just beginning to bring back more of these hardwoods so Louisiana can help enjoy the kinds of animals that Teddy Roosevelt saw when he was here at the turn of the century." There hasn't been a legal bear hunt in the state since 1988, and the New Orleans Advocate reports that state authorities, who will now take over work to protect the species, say it's far too early to talk about holding one now. (This has also been a great month for grizzly bears.)

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