The president’s refusal to shoot the bear Collier captured and restrained fueled the public’s imagination and inspired the stuffed toy known as “Teddy’s bear.” Today, Collier’s hometown of Darlove, MS, where the president and his guide hunted together is the Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge, the first and only refuge named to honor an African-American.

In Holt Collier’s time the bears—and the forests, bayous and thickets where they lived—were plentiful. Today 75 percent of this habitat has disappeared, the bottomland hardwood forest cleared for agriculture, transportation, industrialization and urbanization. In 1992, the Louisiana black bear was listed as a threatened species, protected under the Endangered Species Act everywhere it is found.

Protecting and Restoring Habitat for Bears—and Birds

The refuge that bears Holt Collier’s name is one of the places we’re working to protect. Beginning in 2006, with help from Mississippi Wildlife, we acquired 724 acres and secured private funding to restore the land with native tree species. In early 2014, we completed the transfer of the land to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

With support from Mississippi’s congressional delegation, the USFWS secured funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase the acreage in three parcels. By bringing private funds to the table, we helped save the agency approximately $1.5 million in restoration and acquisition costs.

Why This Project Matters

Our work at Holt Collier NWR is important for wildlife, providing habitat not only for the Louisiana black bear, but also for the 250 species of migratory birds that travel the Mississippi Flyway and rely on the refuge’s habitat to nest and feed. The land we’ve added to the refuge is important to Mississippi’s economy, too, providing outdoor recreation opportunities to hunters, anglers and jobs for the modern-day guides and outfitters who carry on Holt Collier’s legacy.

“I am pleased that The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have been able to complete this effort. The additional 724 acres Holt Collier National Wildlife Refuge has received will have a significant economic impact on our state, and foster the interests of hunters and anglers alike.”
– Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-02)

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