It's just about time for a large portion of  Louisiana's bear population to settle down for their long winter's nap. In natural terms, it's called hibernation and that time of slowed metabolic activity for the animals is fast approaching. But, before the bears can sleep they've got to make sure they have stored enough food in the bodies for those long weeks without eating.

This last-minute forage for food is what has Louisiana Wildlife experts issuing a word or two of caution about bear activity over the next few weeks. You can see the bears are not shy about finding food. This surveillance camera caught a bear roaming around a garage near Lydia over the weekend.

Wildlife experts say the bear's metabolisms are currently running very high. The animals are searching for up to 20,000 calories of food each day. If they're not eating, they are thinking about eating and that's why neighborhood trash cans lined up along the curb seem like a delicious buffet to bears.

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say residents in St. Mary and Iberia Parishes especially should be cognizant of bear activity. That means you'll want to pay special attention to trash cans that do not have tight-fitting lids, areas where pet food may be put out, or any place on your property where old grease from a grill or outdoor kitchen may be disposed of.

By the way, should you spot a bear notify your local law enforcement agency or the Louisiana Department of Wildlife. They are better equipped to handle bear issues than you or I might be and no, you can't just grab your gun and shoot it. There are some serious penalties awaiting those who might kill or injure a Louisiana Black Bear without the proper documentation.