The BBCC was created as a diverse group representing forest industry, conservationists, agency personnel, private landowners, researchers, and interested citizens.
How it all began
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) proposal to list the Louisiana black bear as a threatened subspecies under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) generated quite a controversy. With 90% of forested habitat in the region in private ownership, many feared that the listing would result in regulations restricting private land use. Others felt listing regulations would reduce the flexibility and incentive necessary for bear management. Some thought those regulations would be the bear’s salvation.
In July of 1990, the Wildlife and Recreation Committee (WRC) of the Louisiana Forestry Association hosted a meeting to discuss black bear ecology, management, and the implications of the FWS listing proposal. At that meeting Dr. Michael Pelton of the University of Tennessee planted the seeds for a bear management approach requiring a coordinated effort by the private and public agencies that control the land in occupied and potential habitat. In October, the WRC met again and adopted this cooperative approach and formed the Black Bear Conservation Committee (BBCC). The BBCC was created as a diverse group representing forest industry, conservationists, agency personnel, private landowners, researchers, and interested citizens.
The BBCC recognized successful restoration would require the species to be considered an asset rather than a liability to the private landowner. As a major victory towards that goal, the BBCC negotiated with the FWS to exclude normal forestry practices from ESA regulations, with one exception. Protection of den trees is required, with den trees defined as bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) or tupelo (Nyssa spp.) trees occurring along waterbodies with visible cavities and a minimum diameter at base height of 36 inches.