Bear days of summer

Published 12:26 pm Monday, June 10, 2024

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NATCHEZ — Mississippi’s native black bear population is starting to get on the move and it is possible for people to see bears in urban areas such as Natchez over the summer. One bear recently eft McCall Creek in Franklin County and traveled to an area northeast of Baton Rouge this summer. 

Black bears become more active in the summer time as they start to breed and young males are kicked out of their mom’s home range. They are shy and secretive and by nature are not predatory.

Supplemental feeding and leaving food out for bears can be a catalyst of human and bear conflicts. MDWFP recommends people stop feeding bears directly. Pet food, garbage, grills and bird feeders are examples of potential food sources bears will use. 

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Mississippi’s black bear program director Anthony Ballard recommends people visit to learn more about living with bears.

Here are six basics to remember for living with black bears according to BearWise. 

  • Never feed or approach bears
  • Secure food, garbage and recycling
  • Remove bird feeders when bears are active
  • Never leave pet food outdoors
  • Clean and store grills and smokers
  • Alert neighbors to bear activity

Attacks by black bears are rare and there has never been a reported attack in Mississippi on a human. However, bears are large and powerful so humans should treat them with caution and respect.

“You are going to see young males dispersing from adult sows. You are likely to see bears show up where you don’t expect them. Sometimes it is in places with humans or urban areas,” Ballard said. “They don’t want to be there. They are just trying to find their own home area.” 

Bear sightings can be submitted on the MDWFP Bear Program webpage. A map on the Bear Program webpage shows reported black bear sightings in Mississippi since 2016. Visit for more information on Mississippi’s black bears and other wildlife.