Bear rescued after getting stuck in ditch in Minnesota
The bear had been denned up in a culvert that started to flow during the recent warmup and became stuck when he attempted to seek drier cover, said a DNR bear project leader.
WANNASKA, Minn. — A bear was rescued Monday morning, Feb. 6, after getting stuck in the deep snow of a ditch southwest of Wannaska in Roseau County, Minnesota.
After the ordeal, the bear was taken to a new den at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County, a bear expert for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
According to Andy Tri, bear project leader for the DNR in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the adult male bear had been denned up in a culvert that started to flow during the recent warmup and became stuck when he attempted to seek drier cover.
“He tried to push himself out and kind of got wedged on some frozen water that had frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed and got stuck in place and tired,” Tri said late Monday morning.
Tri, who as a wildlife research biologist is trained and certified to administer sedatives, drove up early Monday morning from Grand Rapids and drugged the bear. With assistance from DNR conservation officers Ben Huener of Roseau, Coby Fontes of Baudette and an officer from the Roseau County Sheriff’s Office, they used a rope with “paw cuffs” to extract the bear from the deep snow, Tri said.
It took them about “20 minutes max” to free the bear once it was drugged, he said.
“I got there (Monday) morning, Ben (Huener) was with it just to make sure nothing happened to it. I came in and it was just one of those standard druggings,” Tri said. “He went right down in 10 minutes, and it took about five guys to haul him up and out of the hole once we dug him out. We just had to free his leg out of the hole of the culvert.”
The bear was in good shape and weighed “probably close to 375-400 pounds,” Tri said.
“He’s in the back of a pickup truck now, and we’ll make him a new den,” Tri said. “He probably won’t stay, but at least it will give him some protection from the elements after that.”
The bear showed no sign of frostbite or frozen tissue, despite its ordeal, Tri said.
“He clearly smelled like runoff — stinky, stagnant water — but generally speaking, I don’t think he was totally frozen in,” Tri said. “I think he just got caught up in some of that thick ice where he pushed out and just hooked himself goofy. We did a little chipping away out of the culvert and were able to roll him on his back and extract his leg. There was a little bit of blood on the outside of the hole where he had been scraping trying to pull himself up, but (he was) no worse for wear and in real good shape.”