Bears' visits decade apart

My wife, Pam, and I live at the east end of Patterson in a 150-year-old plantation home called Idlewild. Ten years ago, we were visited by a young black bear who attracted a large crowd of neighbors to our yard, when word spread that a bear was stranded on a branch in one of our large oak trees along the riverside.

I named him “A-Bear,” a humorous nod to a common last name in our Acadian country.

A-Bear became so famous that he contributed to the city of Franklin founding the The Bayou Tech Bear Festival, which has attracted crowds every year since 2004.

Even though the subdivisions from Patterson south of Highway 90 have been plagued by black bears feeding off garbage cans, we never worried about another A-Bear until last December. Our daughter, Felisa, called us from her cottage about 75 feet west of our house. With a panicky voice, she said, “Daddy, there is a bear invading the garbage can just outside my window.”

Pam and I looked out just in time to see “A-Bear II” ramble around the rear of our carport toward the large oak — the same one the first A-Bear inhabited 10 years ago.

A quick call to the Patterson police brought them out in a patrol car, flashing lights around the yard and in the trees, only catching a glimpse of A-Bear II. They returned several times before I arose at daybreak after a very restless night.

I carefully walked around inside, scouting the yard through the window, but found no evidence of A-Bear II. I went out the back door and looked up into the tree where the original A-Bear had settled a decade ago. I immediately spotted A-Bear II reclining on the same large branch in the same tree.

This was a very large bear, moving his head, following us as we walked in the yard around the tree.

Officer James Carin of the Patterson police arrived, informing us they were assigned “bear supervision duty.” They had already contacted Maria Davidson, senior biologist at the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. She had been on the team that captured A-Bear with tranquilizer darts 10 years ago.

She told me the procedure for dealing with tree-bound bears had changed, and, unless the bear was deemed dangerous, it was allowed to remain undisturbed. The bear, she said, would exit the tree after a day or two and return to its previous habitat.

I agreed, but was somewhat concerned with a 300-pound bear in a tree in my yard. The police assured me they would make frequent patrols.

The first 24 hours found us watching the bear from our kitchen window as he moved to different positions on the large branch. The first morning the bear was still resting in the tree, but the garbage can had been emptied on the ground where A-Bear II had eaten.

The remainder of the day was uneventful, with A-Bear II changing position but remaining on his large branch.

We wished him good night after moving the garbage can.

After a more restful night’s sleep, I was up at dawn and A-Bear II was gone.

We have enjoyed our A-Bear visits, but they are not welcome again.

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