A small Louisiana black bear was stuck in a cypress tree Monday in the backyard of 203 Main St. in Franklin. The bear was taken away to be released in the wild. That case came up Tuesday at the Berwick Town Council meeting.
The Daily Review/Jaclyn Breaux
Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, talks to Berwick residents after they said they're worried about a bear that makes appearances in Renwick Subdivision.
A bear in Berwick; Renwick resident asks for help
BERWICK — A bear has become a worry and a nuisance for some residents in Renwick Subdivision.
At Berwick’s Town Council meeting Tuesday night, Janea Giroir, a resident of Renwick, asked to have her concerns, as well as the concerns of other residents of Renwick whom she was speaking for, heard by the Berwick council members.
Giroir said a bear known to be in the subdivision at night has begun appearing in the day.
Giroir said contact had been made with a representative of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and “we were pretty much told that if you follow these steps, when we get to the end, if the bear is still there, we will put something out to catch the bear. The bear will be relocated.
“We went through all of that and we were kind of told ‘nope, that is no longer an option.’ We were given a plethora of reasons of why, but we saw yesterday in Franklin, they had a bear problem. … A cage was put out, the bear was caught within an hour and then taken to a more conducive location for the bear.
“One of the things that was a focal point of all of this was we need to put our garbage cans in different locations. Keep them in the garage, strap them, all kinds of things focused around the garbage cans,” Giroir said. “It’s not feasible for everyone to put their garbage cans in the garage.”
Residents were told to put their garbage cans out for pickup at 8 a.m., and then Pelican came before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m., Giroir said.
“I especially, along with a lot of people in our subdivision … we don’t think we need bear-proof garbage cans,” Giroir said. “We don’t need the expense of it. I certainly don’t think Pelican has time to tend to the locks whenever they come around to empty the garbage cans.”
Giroir emphasized that she felt as though they were dealing with one bear. She said the residents of Renwick Subdivision believe that “rather than waiting for something major to happen, because this bear … he’s scared also, we don’t know what this animal is going to do.
“We are basically being told that we have to change our lifestyles so that this bear will go away, and it’s just not feasible,” Giroir said. “We live in a neighborhood, an incorporated part of town, we are not out in the woods.”
Maria Davidson, large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, was also in attendance at the meeting to address the issue of the bear in Renwick Subdivision as well as other bears in Berwick.
“(This conversation is) long overdue,” Davidson said. “I am hearing one side and then I’m hearing another side and the things that I’m hearing don’t match at all.
“But what I am hearing from the people that have contacted me from Renwick does match what I’m hearing my contractors say, and it does match what you are saying here today in that ‘I live in a neighborhood therefore I should not have to change my ways because I don’t live in the woods.’”
“The truth of it is now, where you live, it is reasonable and realistic to expect you will change how you live in order to live responsibly with bears, because they are not going away and they are not going to go away,” Davidson said.
Davidson continued to address Giroir saying, “I don’t know what was told to you (by the residents of Renwick), but what was told to me was, ‘We don’t need to change anything, I’m not going to do anything different. It’s unreasonable to put our garbage in our garage.’ Well, if you don’t change your activity and your behavior, then the result is not going to change.
“But the other part of this is you brought a group of people together with a common cause and that’s a good thing, because communities can live with bears.
“I almost cried when I heard you say you don’t want a bear-proof can. I am appalled that anybody that has a problem with bears would say I don’t want a bear-proof can.”
Davidson said there is no extra charge for bear-proof cans.
“So at no additional cost you basically get a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card’ for doing anything with your garbage other than going ‘click, clip,’” Davidson said.
Davidson continued by saying, “What is needed is removing the food that is bringing the bear there in the first place. There is no comparison between what happened in Franklin yesterday and the ongoing problem in Renwick.”
Davidson explained that the Wildlife and Fisheries have to assess each bear individually and they decide what their response will be by what is going on.
“We’ve been doing this a very long time and if removing the bears and putting them in a more suitable location were the answer we wouldn’t be here, it would just be so easy, it would have been taken care of,” Davidson said.
“There is no other suitable place. They can return from the farthest north I can put them, and in fact have, even this year. …
“So what we do now when we go into a residential situation is we educate the homeowners and we say, ‘Look, there are two parts to this. You need to take care of the attractant and we will take care of the bear.’ But, what I’m being told by Renwick and apparently what is on the Facebook page and what you have said here today is ‘we are not doing any of that,’” Davidson said.
A Renwick resident asked what happened in Franklin Monday, when a bear on Main Street was trapped and removed.
“It wasn’t that there was a bear roaming around and it was kind of a problem,” Davidson said. “She was up in a tree.
“Every situation is different. That bear was several blocks into a neighborhood with no escape. There was no way for her to get back to a wood line without going through an entire neighborhood of Main Street and then trying to cross U.S. 90.
“It was an ancient female. She was 20 plus years old. When I see a female doing something that strange, it was just easier to get her out of there. Something has happened in her old brain.”