A female Louisiana black bear was found dead by a hunter on Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in Concordia Parish on Sunday, Dec. 20.

The bear was shot, according to the agency's Lt. Col. Keith LaCaze.

"This is the fourth illegally killed bear on a WMA to date for the 2009-10 hunting season," LaCaze said. "Three others have been killed on Red River WMA."

The bear was identified as one of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries research bears equipped with a transmitter collar.

The hunter reported the killed bear via the Louisiana Operation Game Thief toll free hotline. LDWF Enforcement Division agents responded to the scene and have started an investigation.

LDWF's Wildlife Veterinarian Jim LaCour and Large Carnivore Biologist Mike Hooker performed a necropsy on the bear to aid in the investigation.

This bear, along with her three cubs, was moved in 2006 as part of the multi-agency Louisiana Black Bear Reintroduction Program.  She denned on Three Rivers WMA and produced two cubs in 2009.  The status of her orphaned cubs is unknown. 

"The loss of another adult female in her prime is a significant loss to bear recovery," LDWF Secretary Robert J. Barham said. "Setbacks like these are not only frustrating and costly, but they may also delay removal of the Louisiana black bear from the Endangered Species List."

Killing a bear is a state and federal offense with penalties including up to $50,000 in fines, jail time and loss of hunting privileges.

Anyone with any information regarding this or any other wildlife crime should call Louisiana Operation Game Thief Inc. at 800.442.2511. Cash rewards up to $5,000 are offered for information leading to the apprehension of individuals harming a black bear. Callers may remain anonymous.