Problems have occurred when people, fascinated by a bear near their home or workplace, have tossed food out the door so that they can watch or photograph the animal. In these situations, both the humans and the bear quickly lose fear of each other.
Fear of humans is a bear's most important survival mechanism. Once bears lose their fear of humans there is little incentive for them to avoid circumstances that bring the two together.
Bear encounters could easily result in a dangerous situation, both for people and the bear. It must be remembered that these are wild animals that may react to the presence of humans in unpredictable ways.
Feeding wild black bears is illegal in Louisiana and Arkansas, and strongly discouraged in Mississippi and Texas.
Camps are sometimes visited and damaged by bears searching for discarded food and garbage. A bear that finds food at one camp may decide to visit others and cause problems there. As bear numbers increase, it will become more important for camp owners to maintain clean, garbage-free grounds.
Campsites, including buildings, should be kept as clean as possible. Specific areas should be designated for cleaning fish and game, and these areas should be cleaned thoroughly after each use. Refuse from cleaning should be buried deeply or stored in a bear-proof container and removed from the site. Keep garbage in a locked container and remove it when you leave the camp.
Interaction between humans and bears is discouraged because all wild animals have the potential to be dangerous and inflict serious injury. Bears tolerant of human activity may become aggressive, especially if a handout is expected.
Feeding bears is not recommended in any situation.
“Friendly” bears should not be tolerated and should be reported to an appropriate wildlife professional as soon as possible.
The vintage postcards above feature the formerly common practice of feeding bears. Bears acclimated to humans may become aggressive, especially if a handout is expected, and for this reason feeding bears is illegal in most states. Keep bears wild is our motto!