A Bear Was Stuck in the Snow in Minnesota. Locals Tried to Feed It Pop Tarts.
Luckily for the bear, a wildlife official arrived and rescued it from the chilly predicament
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A Minnesota black bear became so stuck in snow that even the prospect of eating toaster pastries couldn’t coax it free.
On Monday, the Grand Forks Herald published a story about the rescue operation to free the bear, which was buried in snow near the town of Wannaska, located 25 miles from the Canadian border. According to the story, the bear had been living in a drainage culvert, and flowing water from an early thaw began flowing through its den. On Sunday, the bear attempted to dig itself out of the hole, only to become wedged between the snowdrifts.
“He tried to push himself out and kind of got wedged on some frozen water that had frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed,” Andy Tri, the bear project leader for the state’s department of natural resources, told the newspaper.
Curious locals saw the bear sticking out of the snow on Sunday evening and attempted to help. A local couple attempted to dig around the bear, but were unsuccessful in removing it. Two men then attempted to poke it with a large stick to get it moving, but that failed. Other locals attempted to feed the animal. According to Tri, they offered the bear treats like lettuce, fish, and even Pop Tarts.
“Bears aren’t eating this time of year, but their hearts were in the right place,” Tri told the newspaper.
February falls in the midst of a black bear’s hibernation period, which can last up to seven months in Minnesota. Bears find secluded dens that are protected from the cold and spend their days resting or nursing cubs. They don’t eat during this period—instead they live off of the fat stores they build up in the summer. A bear can lose substantial muscle mass during this time. The trapped bear in Wannaska may have struggled to free itself due to this loss of strength.
When those attempts failed, two local men cordoned off the area and waited for help to arrive.
“All they could do last night was keep him safe and keep folks out of the area to make sure they’re not messing with him or stressing him out by taking pictures and getting too close,” Tri said.
On Monday, Tri and other officials arrived on the scene. He sedated the bear, and then the crew dug the animal out and gave it a medical examination. They estimated the animal to weigh between 375 and 400 pounds, and it showed no signs of frostbite, Tri told the newspaper.
Tri told the newspaper that he fitted the bear with ear tags to identify it, and then drove it to the Thief Lake wildlife management area, where it was placed in a new den. “I was worried we’d have a sick bear mortally wounded or gravely injured or something like that,” Tri told the paper. “This is a happy story all the way around.”