MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Getting a black bear’s head out of a 10-gallon milk jug is tricky business.
The Department of Natural Resources says that it took a conservation officer in northern Minnesota several attempts last week when he and others helped a 150-pound bear out of a tight situation.
Officer Eric Benjamin’s first idea on Friday afteroon was to drill holes in the jug, so the bear could breathe. After that, cooking oil was put on the bear’s head, in hopes that the jug could be slid off.
It didn’t work.
So, the local firefighters in Roseau were brought in. First, they put down a tarp, and tried to wrestle the jug off.
One of the firefighters, Aaron Rose, was even the local wrestling coach, according to the Grand Forks Herald.
Still, he was no match for the bear, even if it was exhausted from trying to remove the jug himself.
The thought of putting the bear down loomed over the group.
“The last thing I wanted to do was put that bear down,” Benjamin told the Herald, “but there wouldn’t have been any other options if we couldn’t get that can off its head.”
But the firefighters had another idea: heavy machinery.
They used the “jaws of life,” which are typically used to free people from mangled cars, to cut the jug open.
With several people holding the bear down, the jug was pried off the bear’s head.
Once free, the bear took a quick look around before darting off toward the woods.
Inside the jug was a little water and a few leaves. The bear’s rescuers guessed that the animal got his head stuck trying to get a drink during the recent dry spell.
“When we pulled the can off its head and saw how big its head was, it doesn’t even seem like it would even be possible to get its head in there,” Benjamin told the Herald.
The DNR estimates that there’s between 12,000 and 15,000 black bears in Minnesota.
They are the only bear species in the state, and their range covers almost all of northern Minnesota.