Black Bear Sighted

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The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has received reports of a black bear roaming the area around Abbeville and causing a nuisance. Biologists know the bear well, as they have captured it on two previous occasions. The 225-pound young male bear was originally captured in April near a garbage dump on Avery Island. He was outfitted with a radio collar and released into a more suitable habitat. The bear then resurfaced in mid-July near Perry, where he was captured and released again.

Each time the bear has been captured, he has been released using hazing techniques to condition the bear to avoid human contact. Rubber buckshot and bear dogs are used to teach nuisance bears to stay away from people. However, even with aversive conditioning, this bear is becoming more comfortable around people.

"This change in behavior leads us to believe that this bear is being fed by humans," said Maria Davidson, LDWF biologist. Feeding a wild bear can cause the bear to lose its fear of people, which can be dangerous for the bear as well as humans. "'A fed bear is a dead bear' is a very accurate saying in this situation. Feeding a bear can actually teach a bear to seek out people for handouts. This makes it more likely for the bear to die an unnatural death, either hit on the road or shot," commented Davidson.

Area residents who may see the bear are urged to help teach it to return to the woods and his natural diet. This can be accomplished by removing any pet or people foods from outside, and keeping all garbage in a secured enclosure - not out on the roadside at night. Should the bear wander into a yard or close to a house, the best thing to do is scream and holler at the bear from the inside of the home. Fireworks or banging pots and pans can also be effective in scaring off the bear.

LDWF personnel will be in the area this week to attempt to capture and relocate the bear. In the meantime, anyone needing assistance with the bear is asked to call the Vermillion Parish Sheriff's office or LDWF at (800)442-2511.