Here we are in Louisiana, broke and struggling under the threat of shutting down LSU football, kicking grandma out of the nursing home and no telling what’s next — maybe taking milk away from babies? But our state is also saddled with trying to figure out how to solve the self-inflicted black bear problem.
The discussion centers on whether we should be allowed to hunt excess bears or not. “NOT” is code meaning more and more bears are likely to start showing in people’s yards, causing fatalities crossing the state’s highways, tearing up property and possibly one day killing or mauling somebody who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Remember when everybody thought the alligators were going to become extinct?
Here comes the same story, now with bears. Basically, black bears mostly behave just like overgrown raccoons. But a raccoon would need more than 15 seconds to take you out. Are our black bears dangerous? Most studies say no. But about 1.25 people are killed every year by black bears. Most of those are up north, where bear hunting is legal. Hmmmm. Scientists have learned (I don’t know how) that many of our assumptions about bear dangers are wrong. The most important finding is that it is lone, hungry males—not mothers with young—who are most often the killers. At least that’s what the experts say.
I’ll try to finish this quickly, so bear with me…
Personally, I think the black bear restocking program grew way too big and too fast. It got out of hand and the problem, or “success”, is just going to get worse. Bears restocked in bad bear places aren’t stupid. They have migrated to good bear places, but there were also bears restocked there. So the numbers can get out of whack quickly. Hunting is one option to control that. Kind of.
There are a lot of good people involved in the bear story who have good intentions, but we are violating that “fooling with Mother Nature” deal here. The LDWF won’t say it, but they know and they are testing the waters to see if they should allow some of the bears to be shot, I mean hunted. It’s a touchy subject. Most people don’t want to even talk about it for fear it will bite them. But the LDWF just threw it out there by doing did a survey with 79% of the respondents saying they support having the animals in the state. Only 12 percent surveyed wanted them reduced, though. I doubt any of them have or ever will see a bear in the wild. I’d bet none have had hundreds of dollars of their property destroyed by bears. Nor have they ever had their pants scared off by a 300-pound sow walking down the same woods road as them right after sundown. How informed were those surveyed? Hint: A majority in the survey were from East Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where there are pretty much no bears except in the zoo. Oh look, how cute.
Only half of those surveyed even believed that bears really lived in Louisiana. I kid you not.
Want more? We love our teddy bears here in Louisiana, whether we believe they are here or not.
Nobody asked me what I thought. Did they ask you? I don’t think hunting bears is a solution at all. Nothing could make encountering a wild bear at dark in the woods worse except for encountering a wild bear at dark in the woods that has been butt shot by a nervous hunter and his 30.06 that he just sighted in three years ago. At this point, I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t even think it would work if we sent the bears a letter and told them we couldn’t afford them anymore and they had to go somewhere else, like Oxford, Mississippi. They love black bears in Oxford.
I have a basis for my strong personal opinion. I’ve been in a ground blind with my grandson when a big bear walked our way 50 yards away. I’ve had damage to deer stands and feeders totally destroyed. I have a neighbor who won’t even go back to our hunting woods because he’s seen my pictures and the claw marks on the side of my wooden stand. I’ve walked out into an opening and come face-to-chest with a big bear 30 yards away. It would have been face-to-face, but the big rascal stood up and was a foot taller than me. Both times they walked away, but it was not fun. I don’t remember what I did when I stopped running. It has taken a lot of the relaxation out of my hunting. I know. Black bears won’t hurt you. But they didn’t survey those 1.25 people who they did kill. I have a feeling many, many others who buy hunting licenses and pay taxes on all kinds of sporting goods equipment feel the same way. I’d like to see a survey of people who buy actual hunting licenses from parishes where bear populations are thriving.
By some estimates, there are around 750 bears in Louisiana. That’s about 500 more than I think we have truly suitable wild habitat for. The populations are growing. One of the leaders of the program said that’s because the animals are reclaiming territory where they had died out. Hey, the reason they died out is because their habitat clashed with other things and could no longer sustain them. You know. Roads. Cities. People. Those kind of things.
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Enough serious talk about Bears. I don’t think it would be proper of me not to at least share a little sarcastic HUMOR about bears to end this conversation. It seems I’m not alone out there. How about Bearmageddon !! I just had to pass this on, with no endorsements or guarantees.
There’s an internet “project” in the works to raise money to publish a book called “Bears Want To Kill You”, the authoritative guide to survival in the war between man and bear. You can go to this website and make a contribution to help see that the book project actually gets done.
For a pledge of $20 or more, you can get a paperback and digital book. For $125 you can get an original bear drawing on a hardcover edition, two bear safety stickers, a signed book and a bear safety poster pack. Pledges go all the way up to a $5,000 pledge that will get the book dedicated to you as the person most likely to survive a bear attack and you will get a Top Ten Bear Fighter kit! That spot is still available, but time is of the essence. It’s all or nothing and the project has to reach its goal by Friday, May 18, 2018 2:02 AM CDT. Believe it or not, it’s almost half funded already. Sorry I wasn’t able to give you more notice, but I just found this bit of bear bait myself.
By the way, the book will contain some exciting chapters like Chapter 1: An Introduction to Bears—The basics of bear biology, habits, wrestling moves, and how they plan to kill us all; Chapter 2: Basic Bear Attacks—The basic attacks of bears from the claw swipe to the spinning pile driver; Chapter 5: Bear Stealth Techniques —Places bears are hiding you never even thought of; and my favorite, Chapter 11: How to Defeat a Bear—The shortest chapter in the book.
Okay, I’m stopping now before this gets unbearable. Uh oh. Too late, huh?