Hunting in Bear Country
The Louisiana Black Bear was removed from the federal threatened and endangered species list in 2016; however, it is still protected under Louisiana state law. As bear populations have risen in recent years, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are encountering bears more frequently as they venture into the wild. Many misconceptions exist about bears. The following facts will help you understand bear behavior and how to avoid conflicts with bears.
Black Bear Facts
- It is illegal to hunt or kill the Louisiana Black Bear as the species remains protected by state law.
- There are three distinct subpopulations in Louisiana. They are located in and around Tensas, Pointe Coupee, and St. Mary parishes.
- Den season begins as early as December and stretches into April. Bear dens are found in trees or on the ground in a nest made of grass, leaves, and other material. Ground nests are oftentimes located in a slash pile or thicket.
- If a female bear is disturbed off her nest or den site, she will return when the disturbance has ended. Always leave a nest or den and any cubs present alone.
- A bear’s diet consists of 90% vegetable matter, including nuts, fruits, berries, and grass. Bears are opportunistic feeders, eating almost anything available.
Black bears are normally shy and not aggressive toward humans.
- Keep camp areas clean to prevent food, cooking, and meat odors that will attract bears.
- Keep all garbage secured inside a building until it can be disposed of properly.
- Discard gut piles far away from any camp area.
- Avoid using bait in areas frequented by bears. If bait is used, use timed broadcast feeders hung out of the reach of bears to decrease bear activity.
- Switch bait types from corn to soybeans to reduce attractiveness to bears.
- If you are concerned for your safety, carry bear spray with you and know how to use it. Keep it readily accessible at all times. Bear spray is available for purchase from online retailers and some local stores. Do not try to substitute personal defense products such as pepper spray that are designed for use on humans.
- If a bear regularly visits your deer stand, scare it away with a sling shot, air horn, or bear spray. As an alternative way to scare a bear out of an area, you can launch pyrotechnic scare cartridges such as screamers.
- If you encounter a bear at close range, talk in a calm manner while backing away slowly. Do not run!
- If a bear approaches you, stand your ground, raise your arms to appear larger, yell at the bear, and use bear spray if you have it.
- If attacked, fight back aggressively with anything available. Do not play dead!