PATTERSON,LA — People living in Patterson say there is a big bear problem in their city.
They're frustrated Louisiana black bears keep coming in to their yards and littering their lawns.
"My heart just started racing. I was like oh my God. I mean, I wasn't scared. I'm just like, you know, shocked," Tenisha Thompson, Patterson resident who saw a bear, explained.
Thompson is no stranger to seeing bears in her backyard. She’s seen the endagered bears several times over the past few years.
“But that was my first time actually seeing a bear that big. It stood close to 6 to 7 feet tall,” Thompson described.
Thompson said this year the bear problem is worse than ever.
Detective Larry Jones with the Patterson Police Department said the department gets tons of calls about the bears. The department does what it can, but the final responsibility lies with the La. Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The bears are an endangered species, it’s illegal to hunt or hurt the bears.
Jones said he doesn’t know the exact reason more bears are hitting the town.
Jones has a theory that more people are moving closer and closer to the bears natural habitat. Some people leave food out and that draws the wild animal into the neighborhoods.
It’s not just happening in neighborhoods. Jones said he’s heard of cases of bears walking down Main Street.
Thompson says in her case the bears come from the woods behind her home. They steal her garbage and leave a trail of trash through her yard.
"You here the trashcan making noises and stuff,” Thompson said.
Thompson even changed what she was doing just to try and stop the bears.
"When I leave for work in the morning, I’m like this checking my area to make sure nothing,” Thompson motioned, “I hurry up in the car, and I leave for work. "
The bears aren't just bothering her. A lot of people got new trashcans to try and keep the bears out.
The trashcans don't work. The bears have gotten smart and figured out how to pop the top to get to the trash inside.
"What they do is: They are jerking on it,” Thompson explained. “They're pushing it down. Hitting on it to where the top pops open."
Jones said if you see a bear-stay away and never feed a bear.
"Stay inside because normally they won't attack unless they have cubs and basically are looking for food right now," Jones warned.
"I mean that's there house back there. This is my house," Thompson said for now it's one in the same. “It's just a part of life now. You know they are like family. You know I guess. I feed them. They’re like family.”
The mayor of Patterson is hosting a meeting Monday March 25 at city hall about the bears.