Garland Maxwell barricaded himself inside his Central home overnight, concerned about a big black bear sleeping just feet away.
Just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, law officers had knocked on his door and cautioned him to stay inside until the danger had passed.
"They said, 'Do you have any small pets in your backyard?' I said no," Maxwell recalled Thursday. "They said, 'Good, because there's a big black bear in your backyard.'"
Surrounded by police and wildlife experts, the bear moved to Maxwell's front yard and spent the night nestled in a tree along Carmel Drive.
"He slept right up in this tree last night," Maxwell, 74, said Thursday, pointing to a sturdy oak tree in his front lawn. "He never left my yard."
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Maria Davidson, the large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries who drove in from Lafayette to respond, said her team monitored the animal all night and after sun-up "darted" the animal twice with an anesthetic to put it to sleep.
Once struck, the bear wandered around for a while until falling asleep in a neighbor's carport, Davidson said. At one point early Thursday, Maxwell said, he went out to pick up his newspaper but was immediately told to get back inside.
"I didn't question it," Maxwell said.
Davidson said officials were then able to transfer the bear to a truck to return him to a large area of public land in north Louisiana, from where she said officials believe the bear wandered away.
"We try to get them back into an area that they're familiar with," Davidson said.
Davidson said there were no confrontations involving the bear and called him a relatively quiet animal, which often comes with age. She said the bear was a full-grown male, large even for his age.
"It's important for people to know that just because you sight a bear does not mean they're an imminent danger to people, pets or livestock," Davidson said. "Give the bear space."
She said she believes she had been tracking the wandering bear since mid-May through calls when people spotted him steadily moving south. She said bears typically will find their way back to the woods on their own, but if they get too lost they might need assistance, like in this case.
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While Davidson said bears are more likely to be active in the spring and summer, there is no particular heightened risk of bear activity in residential areas. Bear habitat has been stable or increasing, she said, but with the rising Louisiana black bear population there is an inherent increase in potential interactions with such animals. She suggested that people visit www.bearwise.org or contact the local branch of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for safety information.
But Maxwell said he is just glad he happened to take his 12-year-old Pomeranian dog out a little earlier Wednesday night, at 9:30 p.m., instead of his typical time about an hour later.
“If I had gone out at 10:30, I would have come face to face with the bear," Maxwell said, laughing. "I don’t know what I would have done, maybe had a heart attack.”