NEW ORLEANS — A roving Louisiana black bear that spent more than a week in a central Louisiana neighborhood has wandered away in search of a new home.
The young bear left late Monday after he got caught in a trap set by state biologists, but then managed to open the door and escape, Dennis Carmouche of Marksville said Tuesday.
"He's smart," Carmouche said.
Since the bear is away from humans, he can just continue his journey, said Maria Davidson, head of the large carnivore program for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
"The bear is nowhere to be seen. We don't go hunting him down," she said. Spring Bayou Wildlife Management Area, where the bear would have been taken had he been caught, is only a few miles away.
"Hopefully this guy will go back to where he belongs and we'll never see or hear from him again," she said.
Davidson said the bear — a member of a black bear subspecies listed as threatened — had been living on the outskirts of Marksville, a city of 5,700, for about eight days.
When mating season gets near, mother bears chase off yearling cubs to keep them safe from big males that may come looking for a female in heat. The 1½-year-old males weigh about 150 pounds; adult males weigh 350 to 600 pounds. Female yearlings often find a den within visiting distance of mama, but males are "run off aggressively," Davidson said. They seek more distant territory.
This one, dubbed Yogi by Carmouche, had spent most of its time since Wednesday in a big water oak between Carmouche's and Patsy Trevillion's yards.
Carmouche said that because the bear had walked in and out of the trap without stepping on the trigger plate, state wildlife biologist Ken Moreau had fixed a rope to pull the door down.
About an hour after Moreau left Monday, Carmouche said, the bear came down the tree and entered the trap.
Carmouche said his grandson and wife pulled on the rope.
"We're looking at him in the trap: 'We got him! We got him!' — celebrating," he said. He said he was calling Moreau when a paw emerged from under the door.
Carmouche said, "I tried to hold it down so he couldn't get out," but realized that was futile.
"We just backed off," he said.
Carmouche said the bear climbed back up the tree but didn't stay long. "He went back down and started up another tree. He went up by the road. We didn't want him on the road — there's a lot of traffic — so we headed him off. Instead of my road, he went along the fence line."
If he stayed on that route, he'd hit Spring Bayou in about five miles, Trevillion said Tuesday.
Both said they looked for the bear again Tuesday but didn't find him.
"I may walk the tree line after a while and make sure he's not around. I still worry about him," Trevillion said, because "some nut" might shoot him.