St. Mary

Dec 10, 2012 7:20 PM by Chris Welty

Residents Concerned About Bear Sightings

In St. Mary Parish, residents in the Berwick area are staying vigilant after several bear sightings.

Berwick police tell KATC this weekend they received four calls about bears in the area and at least one was spotted in a neighborhood.

So far across the state, 13 bears have become road-kill this year.

Hunters are seeing them by the dozen, but it's not unusual.

"They are becoming much, much less fearful of man and much more aggressive toward the other animals."

Scott Ramsey owns hunting property in the Patterson area and has seen an increase in the bear population. Two weeks ago while hunting, he and friends counted 34 bears on his property.

"Two of the bears tried to climb up into the deer stand with the hunters," said Ramsey.

Bears have been eating wild hogs and even taking them from hunters. Ramsey is concerned they'll start going after pets and small kids.

"These bears are roaming near the subdivisions."

Maria Davidson with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says it's normal to see bears this time of year and the only reason they'll be in a neighborhood is because they're hungry.

"Down on the coast, bears are in such close proximity to people anyway that they seek out higher calorie food which is human food sources like garbage, pet food, bird food, things like that," said Davidson.

With cooler temps on the way, Maria expects the number of bear sightings to go down.

"When that metabolic phase leaves, then it is gone. it's like a light switch and the bears go into a den and the calls will stop."

If you come in contact with a bear you should raise your arms over your head to appear larger. If the bear continues to approach wave your arms and yell or use bear spray to deter its approach.

If you see one, call police or Wildlife and Fisheries.

Louisiana black bears are on the endangered species list and it's illegal to shoot or kill them. Violators could face a 25 thousand dollar fine, six months in jail, and a restitution fine for killing a bear.

Chris Welty



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