Black Bear Rescued After Spending Days Stuck in Icy Minnesota Culvert

bear rescued from ditch
bear rescued from ditch

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/Facebook

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rescued a bear stuck in a culvert alongside a road near Wannaska after the animal got stuck there during hibernation.

The rescued male black bear, 6 years old and weighing between 375 and 400 lbs., had hunkered down for hibernation in the culvert, according to a Facebook post by the Minnesota agency. As the snow began to melt, the culvert started to flood, and then as temperatures dropped again, the water refroze around the bear, catching him in the snow and ice.

"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," Andy Tri, a bear biologist, told Inforum.

Local news station KVLY-TV reported that the bear was stuck for three days before a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources crew and a Roseau County deputy came to free the animals. Using a syringe pole, the team injected the bear with an anesthetic to knock him out before extracting him from the ice, per the station. The group then used a rope with "paw cuffs" to carefully pull out the bear, which took about 20 minutes.

"... It took about five guys to haul him up and out of the hole once we dug him out," Tri told Inforum, adding that the bear showed no signs of frostbite. "We just had to free his leg out of the hole of the culvert."

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"He clearly smelled like runoff — stinky, stagnant water — but generally speaking, I don't think he was totally frozen in," Tri continued. "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," he added. "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."

The DNR said on Facebook that they were able to relocate the bear to a state game sanctuary so the animal could resume his hibernation in peace.

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bear rescued from ditch
bear rescued from ditch

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources/Facebook

Some criticized the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Facebook for taking several days to respond to calls about the stuck bear, according to the Star Tribune.

In response to the complaints, the agency stated that "it's typically better for animals (and humans) when" humans resist intervening and added that in most cases, bears escape tight situations on their own.

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is using this incident as a reminder to give wild animals their space, even in situations like this.

The agency recommends calling a wildlife professional if you spot a bear in distress, adding, "don't try to move it or feed it! Doing so can result in a bad situation (either for you or for the bear)."