Due to its peninsula shape and moderate year-round temperatures, Florida is a state that hosts a variety of small and large animal species. Yes, though once in rapid decline and nearly non-existent, the Florida black bear population has climbed back to over 4,000 bears in the state since the 1970s. However, like many large animals, bears have the tendency to become very nosey at times, especially if they smell food. This can often lead them to wander from their forest habitat and into neighborhoods and cities.
This is the story of one curious Florida black bear that did just that. Out on the hunt for the food, wildlife authorities were called to remove a bear from civilization and put it back in its natural habitat. But things took a scary turn when a tranquilizer dart didn’t do its job as quickly as it should have. Check out the amazing story here:
30. Florida Black Bears?
You might not immediately think “black bear” when it comes to animals in Florida. No, the animals that are usually first to mind in the Sunshine State are panthers, alligators, and snakes. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission estimates that over 4,000 black bears reside in Florida as well.
29. Living the Florida Bear Life
Male black bears usually grow to weigh between 250 and 300 pounds, and females usually weigh between 130 and 180 pounds. They feed mostly on plants, but also eat insects and meat. Black bears also have the potential to be somewhat nosy…
28. One Nosy Bear
Bears typically enter into human territory when they’re hungry, as was the case with a 400-pound black bear recently in Alligator Point, Florida, which is located on St. James Island off of the Gulf of Mexico. The community borders Bald Point State Park, which is a popular habitat for many black bears.
27. Looking for Fish?
As we noted in an earlier slide, bears eat a combination of plants, insects and meat – but their favorite food might be fish. Could the black bear have been rummaging through the suburbs looking for some leftovers?
26. Spooked Residents
The black bear was bopping around Alligator Point looking around homes for food. Understandably, this spooked some residents, so much so that wildlife authorities were called to the scene to handle the situation.
25. Ineffective Tranquilizer Dart
Wildlife authorities quickly arrived on scene in Alligator Point and attempted to sedate the bear with a tranquilizer dart. However, their plan backfired.
24. Bear on the Run
Frightened, the bear made a run for it and jumped into the water of one of the channels that lead out to the Gulf of Mexico. But as the bear swam further and further out into the water away from authorities, the tranquilizer dart began to finally take effect. This had the potential to end very poorly for the bear.
23. Forget the Trees
It may seem a little odd that the bear headed for the water instead of one of its other favorite hiding places – a tree. Yes, when bears are spooked, they often climb a tree to dodge the potential threat. Maybe the water gives further credibility to the fact that it may have been looking to dine on some fish?
22. Bear Under Water
Bears are good swimmers, but a bear can’t swim if it’s sedated. Feeling the effects of the tranquilizer, the black bear gradually began to drown. That was until a man stepped up and decided to help it out.
21. The Great Bear Rescue
Adam was part of the wildlife commission team that was called upon to return the bear to its habitat – and he was still determined to do just that. He jumped into the water after the bear to rescue the drowning creature.
20. The Unwritten Rules of a Drowning Rescue
It’s often advised by experts that civilians – especially those without flotation devices – not try to rescue drowning victims. This is because the erratic nature of an individual drowning is likely to pull the unqualified rescuer with them. Noting this, you can only imagine what would be advised in saving a 400-pound black bear. “Jump in after it and bring it to shore” probably isn’t in the book.
Adam apparently never got the memo regarding drowning rescues and entered the water without a flotation device, completely unfazed by the size of the bear. We’re guessing that this isn’t something the Coast Guard would recommend.
Adam began dragging the bear back to shore through the current when the tranquilizer began to seemingly wear off and the bear began to show signs that it was regaining consciousness. Things weren’t shaping up to go particularly smoothly for the brave wildlife worker.
17. Weak Legs
Despite the bear coming to, its legs remained weak, so it couldn’t swim under its own power. This was also beneficial for Adam, as he was less likely to be injured during the rescue attempt. The bear needed his rescuer to get him to shore or he would surely drown.
16. They Came By Sea
A nearby boat noticed Adam struggling with the bear and cruised over to see if it could help. Unfortunately, the bear was too heavy to lift on board. Options were dwindling. It was get to shore or bust.
15. Last Resort
After the failed boat rescue attempt, the last option was swim the bear back to shore. As you can imagine, this was no easy task with a 400-pound wild animal. Adam had to muster up every last ounce of his strength and then hope that the bear didn’t fight him along the way.
14. Shallow Water
Despite battling fatigue, Adam was able to swim the bear into shallow water, where it was able to stand with its head above the surface. Though the bear was seemingly spared from drowning, Adam still tended to it as the pair proceeded back to shore.
13. Help Arrives
With the bear and Adam both tired from swimming about 25 yards through strong currents to shallow water, another man entered the water to help stabilize the bear and provide some much-needed relief. Finally, it appeared the ordeal was over and the bear would be moved back to dry land.
12. Not So Fast
Even with the help of another grown man, the bear was still too much to handle. Luckily, there was a tractor nearby, so the rescuers utilized it and began to push the bear back to shore. The complicated rescue was finally coming to an end.
11. Back to the Woods
Finally, the bear was pushed from the water and loaded onto a truck to deliver it back to the nearby forest. If it weren’t for his rescuer, the outcome could have been much different.
10. A Groggy, But Fortunate Bear
The black bear was still groggy sitting in the bed of the pickup truck that would take it back home, but Adam made sure to give it a scratch on the back to wish it well. We’re guessing the bear would have returned the farewell gesture had it not still been feeling the effects of the tranquilizer.
9. A Few Cuts
Amazingly, the only injuries that Adam suffered throughout the attempt were minor ones. A few cuts and grazes are the only physical proof that Adam has from the whole ordeal (aside from the pictures that his colleagues took to document the amazing rescue.)
8. Home at Last
Finally, after the long, life-threatening ordeal, the bear was released back into the woods. And judging by the picture, he seems happy to be back home. And why not after the crazy ordeal that had just taken place?
7. Florida Bear Conservation
Today, there’s over 4,000 black bears living in the wild in Florida. However, back in the 1970s, there were only a few hundred in the state. The population increase is a great Florida case study on the success of these conservation efforts.
6. Adam the Bear Hero
Of course, while conservation efforts have proven successful in Florida as it pertains to the black bear population, we’re guessing that saving them from drowning hasn’t historically been a part of it. That’s where Adam has become a bear hero.
5. Living with Bears
Though the story of Adam and the bear rescue turned out well, this isn’t always the case when bears and humans interact. That’s why it’s important for people to take proper measures to see to it that they don’t tempt bears near their homes.
4. No Garbage
For instance, bears are often found near civilization rummaging through garbage for food, so it’s important to prevent access to food and food byproducts that may be in exposed garbage cans. About 30 percent of all bear calls in Florida involve the animals going through garbage in residential areas.
3. Interactions with Humans
Bears are usually fearful of humans, however, if they continue to rummage through garbage in neighborhoods and continue to interact with them, they’ll lose that fear. It’s another reason why taking measures to prevent them from coming into civilization is important.
2. Scare the Bear
If the bear is on your property and you’re in a safe area, wildlife professionals advise doing something to scare the bear away. This can be done by yelling, banging pots and pans or using something else that makes a loud noise, like an air horn.
1. Who You Gonna’ Call?
Of course, many residents also call wildlife authorities to help take the bears back to the woods, as was the situation with this story. We’re guessing most of these incidents don’t end up with a water rescue, though.
Thanks for viewing! Enjoy more stories from our sponsors: