The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries says at this time of year, bears should be in their winter dens, but they have been spotted all over St. Mary Parish digging into trash cans.

Maria Davidson, Department of Wildlife and Fisheries bear expert, says they believe that bears did not have a chance to fatten up enough before they went to hibernate.

Now those bears are awake and looking for something to eat.

Davidson says berries and nuts are scarce, so they have resorted to digging through garbage cans and pet food canisters. She suggests that pet owners must take their pet food inside at night, and that all citizens make sure their garbage containers are secure.

Some 1.300 bear-proof garbage cans have been given out to local households.  Some of the garbage cans have broken, and the advice from the parish black bear office is to use ratchet straps until the waste company can fix the garbage cans.

Discussion about the bear problem will be held for the public on March 25th in Patterson.