Though they'd normally still be in winter dens, federally protected Louisiana black bears are active in St. Mary Parish -- and getting into trash cans.
Maria Davidson, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries bear expert, tells The Advocate that bears in coastal areas couldn't fatten up enough for denning. She doesn't know why. But they're awake and hungry.
With nuts and berries scarce, they're going for calorie-rich garbage and pet food.
Davidson says residents need to take pet food inside at night and keep garbage in a clean, secure container.
Parish residents have been given 1,300 bear-proof garbage cans.
Some are broken. Parish black bear conflict officer Catherine Siracusa tells people should use ratchet straps until the waste company can fix them.
A public meeting about bears is scheduled March 25 in Patterson.