Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries enforcement agents found the skin and head of a black bear May 19 near a New Iberia subdivision, and are now looking for the person who illegally killed the bear, the agency announced today (May 23).

Agents believe this bear's skin and head are connected to an illegally killed black bear reported through a public tip more than a year ago in the Iberia and Vermilion parishes area. The tip indicated someone had shot a black bear, and then skinned and stored the bear in order to mount it in the future.

The bear had been part of LDWF's black bear program, and was first tagged in 2000 when it was estimated to be 6 years old.

The passive integrated transponder implanted during the initial capture was left in the hide when the bear was skinned, and provided positive identification.

LDWF had never received a nuisance call about this older male bear that lived mostly in the Weeks Island area of lower Iberia Parish.

"This is a real shame that someone felt compelled to poach this bear during a time when we are trying our best to restore the Louisiana black bear to a sustainable population," LDWF Large Carnivore Program Manager Maria Davidson said.

Anyone with information should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 800.442.2511. Cash rewards of up to $5,000 are offered for information leading to the apprehension of individuals harming a black bear. Callers remain anonymous.

"We urge anybody with information about this case to come forward so we can catch the person responsible for this crime," Lt. Col. Joey Broussard said. "It is believed that the person that dumped these remains of the bear was scared of being caught, and thus got rid of the evidence. We are hopeful that through the public's help and our existing evidence that we can solve this case."

The Louisiana black bear has been listed on the Federal Threatened and Endangered Species List since 1992. Killing a Louisiana black bear is a violation of both state law and the federal Endangered Species Act. Violators are subject to penalties of up to $50,000 and six months in jail. In addition, a civil restitution fine of $10,000 for the bear may be imposed on anyone convicted of killing a black bear in Louisiana.