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Bears in Mississippi

In the past, a large population of black bears were found throughout the State of Mississippi. Today, there are only about 50-100 black bears left.

Where do bears live in Mississippi?

Map of bear sightings

See where bears live

Bears are woodland animals and can be found mostly in and near large tracts of bottomland forests and mixed hardwood forests along the Mississippi, Pearl, and Pascagoula Rivers. However, they are very adaptable and can be seen passing through many different habitat types.

Most of the bear sightings and known resident bears in Mississippi are in the lower Delta and southwest portions of the state. Bears can cross the Mississippi river from Arkansas and Louisiana, which is where the nearest breeding populations occur.

 

How do we know if a black bear is present?

We look for signs that tell us that a bear is around, such as scratch marks, tracks, scat, trail camera photos, and potential den sites.

Telephone pole with scratch marks

 

This telephone pole shows scratch marks made by one or more black bears (Photo: USFWS).

Bear tracks in the mud

Black bear tracks in the mud in Greene county. It is rare to see the tips of the claws in a black bear track, unless the ground is very soft (Photo: MDWFP).

Bear scat

This photo of a black bear scat is full of blackberry seeds, a favorite food.  When taking a photo of any bear sign, be sure to put something (such as a quarter or pen) next to the sign so size can be accurately determined.

Bear picture

A black bear is caught on film with a trail camera in Wilkinson county. Many bear sightings have been recorded due to private citizens sending in trail camera photos of bears (Photo: MDWFP).

Bear tree den

Bears often den in large, hollow trees, especially cypress or oak, such as this one in Issaquena county (Photo: USFWS).

Bear ground den

Bears also den on the ground, often in brush piles, such as this one in Wilkinson county (Photo: USFWS).