Firefighters wrestle hyperventilating bear, trying to free its head from 10-gallon can

Roseau, Minnesota, firefighters wrestled a bear with its head stuck in a 10-gallon jug and freed it, officials said.
Roseau, Minnesota, firefighters wrestled a bear with its head stuck in a 10-gallon jug and freed it, officials said. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Rescuers used tactic after tactic to free the trapped bear — but for hours, nothing worked, Minnesota officials said.

The 150-pound black bear got its head trapped in a 10-gallon can last week just outside of Roseau, Minnesota, according to the state’s department of natural resources.

After applying cooking oil to the can and the imperiled animal, a conservation officer and other rescuers tried to slide the bear’s head out — but to no avail, officials said.

By that point, the rescuers had already drilled a few holes in the can to make sure the bear could breathe as the rescue was underway.

“....the bear was panting pretty hard, starting to hyperventilate,” conservation officer Eric Benjamin explained, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

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Benjamin said that the Roseau Fire Department was called in to help after two hours of frustrated work to free the bear, the Associated Press reports.

The three firefighters who joined rescuers on the scene tried to cover the bear in a boat tarp to get a better grip on the animal — but the strategy didn’t go as planned, the Herald reports.

Though the animal was exhausted and panting, it wasn’t too tired to wrestle with the firefighters, one of whom is a local wrestling coach, according to the Herald.

“He took one shot at the bear, and he got it tipped over, but the bear kept rolling and just pushed him right off,” firefighter Neal Vatnsdal said of the wrestling coach’s moves to subdue the wild animal, the newspaper reports.

Firefighters then turned to the Jaws of Life to rescue the bear, photos posted by the department of natural resources show. The tool is traditionally used to save people trapped in car wrecks or stuck in other disastrous scenarios.

As rescuers used the Jaws of Life to free the animal’s head, the bear lay on the grass and waited, a photo shows. And the tool finished the job.

“He wasn’t really happy to see me,” Vatnsdal said of the bear, according to the Herald.

The bear didn’t stick around to say thank you, either.

“As soon as the can came off its head, it took a couple of big breaths and then it just kind of took a look around at everybody that was standing there and then made a beeline for the woods,” Benjamin told the Herald.

Photos of the rescue were shared widely on Facebook. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

A Facebook post about the incident, posted by the department of natural resources on Sept. 10, has been shared more than 800 times.

Roseau’s fire department shared the post as well.

“One of the stranger things we have done,” the fire department wrote. “It’s always interesting.”

The 150-pound male bear was on the small side, according to the department of natural resources. Male black bears can weigh as much as 500 pounds.

“They follow their noses, and use their mental maps of the landscape to locate food sources,” the department’s description of black bears says.

A video by Michelle Baber shows a black bear making itself comfortable in a hammock outside her Asheville, North Carolina home.

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