The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks recently made changes to its Black Bear Program.
Richard Rummel was named program leader and biologist Jamie Holt as biologist.
Rummel, who has been with the MDWFP since 1997, has served as the acting leader of the Black Bear Program for the last four years. He was responsible for receiving and logging bear sightings, resolving bear-to-human conflicts, and investigating all bear deaths in Mississippi.
“I am very excited to have Jamie Holt on board full-time with the bear program as the new black bear biologist,” Rummel said in a statement. “We’ll be sitting down very soon to map out some short- and long-term goals for the bear program. The extra manpower will also allow us to continue participation in a number of regional bear-management activities in the southeastern U.S.”
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Holt had worked as the South Delta Wildlife Management Area regional biologist since June 2015. He was also a project research assistant with the Mississippi State Black Bear Project.
“I look forward to being on board with the program, and working with Rummel and the other stakeholders,” Holt said. “We will be taking steps to assess the information we have as well as what we lack to develop and plan to move forward."
The MDWFP Black Bear Program began in June 2002 at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The goal was to conduct research on Mississippi black bears. In 2002, the state had almost 50 bears. Today, the state’s bear population has tripled. MDWFP attributes this to the recent appearance of female bears in the state, leading to the births of numerous cubs over the last several years.
The Black Bear Program is now housed within the Wildlife Bureau of the MDWFP. It continues to conduct research and educate the state about black bears.
The state has three breeding subpopulations of black bears. General sightings of bears have increased dramatically all over the state, due to dispersing bears from populations in neighboring states.