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The way the warden sees it, the more than 400-pound (180-kilogram) black bear living in the middle of the sprawling Louisiana State Penitentiary is an extra layer of security.
"I love that bear being right where it is," Warden Burl Cain said Monday. "I tell you what, none of our inmates are going to try to get out after dark and wander around when they might run into a big old bear. It's like having another guard at no cost to the taxpayer."
The bear was first seen by an inmate crossing a road in the prison on Friday. It was taking a stroll near the center of the state's only maximum security prison, which is about 115 miles (185 kilometers) northwest of New Orleans.
Prison officials believe they have eight to 10 bears on the grounds, said Gary Young, head of the executive management office at the prison.