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Louisiana Bear Wise

Humans and bears can coexist successfully if humans modify or curtail behaviors that promote conflicts.

  • Never feed or approach bears.
  • Secure food, garbage, and recycling.
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active.
  • Never leave pet food outdoors.
  • Clean and store grills.
  • Let your neighbors know if you see bears in your area.
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Prevent bears from becoming a nuisance at your home

The most common reported nuisance behavior of Louisiana black bears is related to unsecured garbage. Bears will take advantage of a readily available food source, even if it is only a small amount or located near residential areas. Once a bear finds food, it will come back. Food associated with humans (garbage, pet food, bird feed, etc.) is very high calorie, and if it is readily available, bears will quickly learn to return to this valuable food source. Be sure to:

  • Store garbage cans in a secure shed or garage.
  • Always bag your garbage and double bag smelly items such as disposable diapers.
  • Rinse out all food containers before placing them in your garbage.
  • Put your garbage can out on the road on the day of pick-up, never the night before.
  • Clean or rinse your garbage can often with bleach or ammonia to eliminate odors.
  • Take down all bird and squirrel feeders. If you must have feeders, make sure they are hung at least 10 feet high and you pick up all spilled seed from the ground.
  • Never put food scraps out for wildlife.
  • Feed pets during the day and pick up any leftover feed.

Ensure a safe outdoor experience in Louisiana bear country

There are certain areas of Louisiana where you could encounter a Louisiana black bear while enjoying our sportsman’s paradise. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Be mindful of attractants located in and around your camp. Make sure you place all garbage, deer bait, coolers, and other attractants in a secure shed or bear proof container.
  • Put electric fencing around deer food plots or feeders or remote camps. You can find electric fencing at most farm supply stores. The electric wire is flagged to allow deer to see the fencing easily. Deer quickly learn to jump over the fence to access the food plot or feeder. Electric fencing can also help protect a camp in a remote area.
  • Place unwelcome mats in front of doors or windows to discourage bears from attempting to enter a dwelling. Unwelcome mats are a relatively cheap and inexpensive way to deter bears from investigating structures. Their simple design consists of boards with upward pointing nails. Be sure to space the nails no more than 2 inches apart. The mats can also be electrified to deliver a quick nonlethal shock when the bear steps onto the mat.
  • Store ice chests in a shed, use a device to prevent bears from opening the ice chest, or use bear proof ice chests.
  • Remove your ATV seat and hang it over tree branches while hunting. Bears are attracted to plastic and plastic-like products, and hunters across the country have reported damage from bears to seat cushions of their parked ATVs while away hunting.
  • Use bear spray. Only buy EPA-registered bear spray; do not use personal defense spray as bear deterrent. You can find bear spray at outdoor stores or online.
  • It is not unusual for a bear to peer up into a deer stand. A quick shot of bear spray to the face of this curious bear would help warn the bear to stay away from deer stands. If you don’t have bear spray, simply move around and talk in a calm voice to alert the bear to your presence and encourage it to move away. Remove all bait and food plots around your stands to prevent visits from bears.
  • If you use a feeder, use an automated feeder hung at least 10 feet off the ground and 4 feet from the closest tree or post. Switch bait from corn to soybeans to reduce or eliminate bear visits to your feeder.
  • Pyrotechnical, nonlethal devices such as screamers, bangers, and whistlers emit a blank scare cartridge which causes a loud sound and scares curious bears from an area. A simple whistle can also effectively deter bears. 
  • Dispose of gut piles well away from hunting camps. Hang deer carcasses in a secure shed. 

Minimize your risk of an attack

Remember that bears are complex, intelligent animals, and no two encounters or bears are exactly alike.

  • Stay calm and think ahead. Plan how to respond long before you encounter a bear.
  • Never run. Running may trigger an attack. Make yourself less vulnerable. Stand on a log, stump, or any available object and raise your arms over your head to appear as large as possible. Speak in a calm, confident voice to alert the bear of your presence. Stand your ground until the bear stops approaching.
  • The bear may approach you or rear up on its hind legs. Bears are often curious. If one stands on its hind legs, it is most likely trying to catch your scent—this is not a sign of aggression. Back away slowly and talk in a soft voice.
  • Never drop food to distract the bear. If you give a bear food, you are rewarding it for its human encounter, increasing the likelihood that it will repeat this behavior again.
  • Watch for agitated behaviors. These behaviors usually indicate that the bear is stressed, acting defensively, and needs more space. Attacks rarely follow. Simply back away and give the bear the space it needs.The bear might:
    • Swing its head from side to side
    • Make vocalizations such as huffs, snorts, whoops, or moans
    • Pop its jaw
    • Swat at the ground
    • Pant
    • Lay its ears back.
  • If the bear makes contact, fight back with anything available. Many people have fought off an attacking bear and survived. Do not play dead.