A family in Wisconsin had a once in a lifetime experience. In the case of being in the right place at the right time, they were able to save a young black bear cub who found itself in peril.
Brian and Tricia Hurt, along with their son Brady, were spending a Saturday afternoon fishing on their boat in Marsh-Miller Lake when they saw something in the water.
Everyone in the boat had their own thoughts as to what it was. Brady Hurt, 26, first thought it was a rock—until he saw it move. His father thought it might be a dog swimming across the lake. It was his mother who finally realized exactly what they were looking at.
In an interview with the Milwaukee Sentinel, Tricia Hurt shares her initial reaction.
“I said, ‘That ain’t no dog. I think that’s a bear. We got closer and I said, ‘Yeah, that’s a bear that got hungry and got its head stuck in a bucket.'”
It wasn’t a bucket at all, which one would assume would have been easier to remove. What the poor creature had stuck on its head was a large plastic container that once contained cheese balls.
Now bears are sneaky and clever, especially when there is food involved, so there is a chance this bear stole that container. A small chance.
But this seems to be a good time to remind people how dangerous littering is for wildlife. We hear it again and again, but either the message isn’t getting across or people just don’t care.
Just last month—June 2020—peta.org shared an article entitled How Littering Hurts Animals. It included this snippet,
“Tin Cans, Cups, and Jars
What can happen: Hungry animals desperate for even just a few crumbs often get their heads stuck in discarded cans, cups, and jars.”
Within a matter of weeks of that reminder the story of this bear cub in a life-threatening situation because of a container goes viral.
The Hurt family realized that water was beginning to flood the container it was trapped in, meaning drowning was imminent. So they did what many of us would do and set out on a mission to save the cub.
As she said in an interview with CNN,
“We knew that if we didn’t do something, we are pretty sure it would not have made it to shore. It was really huffing and puffing, my husband said.”
While her husband and son tried to get into a position to stage a rescue, mom captured it all on video which she posted to Facebook—while assisting with some verbal encouragement.
“Oh, he’s getting scared. Oh! Trying to figure out how to get this tub off his head.”
They are doing their best to save the bear but are aware of the dangers it could pose to them, as well. They’re afraid of the animal making it to the shore and running away before they get the chance to remove the jug, but as Tricia Hurt says,
“We don’t want him crawling in here [the boat] either, once we get it off.”
It took a few attempts before they could get close enough to the bear to help, but they eventually did, and with a hard yank Brian Hurt was able to pull the tub off the cub’s head. And the moment it was off that little guy started to swim to shore for all he was worth.
I can’t help wondering where mama was through all of this. Mama bears tend to be extremely protective. But fortunately for this little guy he had a human mama directing things so that he got back to safety.
As she says at the end of the video,
“We saved our little bear. Swim happy!”
After returning to shore the family learned that people in the vicinity had caught sight of the bear running around with the container on its head for three or four days. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had tried to find it but had been unable to due to the heavily wooded landscape.
Hurt told CNN she had planned to post the video, but eventually decided to go ahead.
“We wanted everyone to know that the bear was OK.”
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