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According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, someone illegally killed a black bear in St. Mary Parish and they are seeking leads as to whom the guilty party might be.

LDWF agents were alerted about a dead black bear off of Log Bayou Rd. on Nov. 9 near Centerville. Agents responded to the scene and collected the 350-pound adult male bear. A necropsy revealed that the bear was shot by a rifle a few days before Nov. 9.

The Humane Society of the United States is offering up to $5,000, the Acadiana Chapter of Safari Club International is offering up to $2,500, and LDWF’s Operation Game Thief program is offering up to $1,000 for a total of $8,500 in reward money. This reward money is for anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the illegal killing of this black bear.

Anyone with information regarding this illegal killing should call the Louisiana Operation Game Thief hotline at 1-800-442-2511 or use LDWF’s tip411 program. To use the tip411 program, citizens can text LADWF and their tip to 847411 or download the “LADWF Tips” iPhone and Android app from the Apple App Store or Google Play free of charge.

St. Mary Parish includes the towns of Franklin and Morgan City and sits right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. So, why is a story about the death of this illegally killed black bear so far away of importance to us?

That one is simple. The black bear's population is quickly growing and as the population blossoms, so does the bears' need to expand their hunting grounds. That means that deer hunters right here in Northwest Louisiana could routinely spot these elusive creatures in the very near future and we need to make ourselves aware of that possibility.

Bear populations are growing quickly in the Tensas area to our east. The South Arkansas population is also on the rise and those bears aren't scared to move south. So what makes us think the day isn't coming when we might encounter them several times each season?

We've already experienced a few sightings in the area, but those have been few and far between, but biologists warn that sooner or later, they'll roam the woods here in our area with regularity.

With that in mind, we have to consider why someone would shoot the animal. Several cases of illegally killing bears have been attributed to misidentification. Those hunters honestly mistook the bears for wild hogs, and while I've never seen one myself, the pictures I've seen of the Louisiana black bear are eerily similar to a wild hog. However, ignorance is no excuse, especially when you're holding something as lethal as a deer rifle.

I'm sure that some hunters claim that fear for their lives was their reason for shooting. However, knowledge of this animal, would have you know that a scorned woman poses a lot more of a threat than this herbivore. Again, knowledge of the animal is key.

I'm not saying that your favorite food plot might have a bear raving your greens this year, but just note that the day is coming, and NOW is the time to start your research so that we don't have incidences like this right here in our area.

Just a little something for all of us hunters to start thinking about and begin our research.

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