Bear with head stuck in metal can released in Vermont for a month

Rescuers in Vermont worked for three weeks to capture a black bear with a metal can around its neck before they were finally able to tranquilize and free the animal.

Photo from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

A black bear with a metal can on its head eluded rescuers for more than three weeks until they were finally able to trap and help the animal.

A video shared by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department on June 4 shows the bear being released.

About a month ago, Enosburgh residents began reporting sightings of a bear with a metal milk jug wrapped around its neck like a cone, the department said on Facebook.

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Although wildlife specialists are unsure how the bear’s head got stuck, they devised a plan to free it.

“Capturing a bear is actually very difficult,” Josh Morse, spokesman for Vermont Fish and Wildlife, told McClatchy News.

Property owners and wildlife cameras spotted the bear, helping direct the response team to good areas to set up traps for the roughly 500-pound creature, officials said.

“Unfortunately, this was not a surprising report,” David Sausville, wildlife management program manager, said in an email. “There have been similar incidents: biologists removed a can from another bear about a decade ago.”

The response team set up two culvert traps, which resemble large tubes, specifically designed for black bears, according to the wildlife department.

The team first set the traps on May 10 and moved them when the bear changed locations, Sausville said.

Every day someone had to check the traps and keep the team informed via text message, Sausville said. The group also organized 24-hour staffing in case the bear got caught in one of the traps.

Finally, on June 1, 22 days after the group laid the traps, game wardens, biologists and a local resident worked together to capture the bear, sedate it with medication and get rid of the can.

They placed a cloth over the bear’s eyes and snout as they cut away the can, the video shows. The team pried it away and protected the animal from the jagged edges, and the bear was free.

The roughly 500-pound black bear got its head stuck in an old metal milk can, Vermont wildlife officials said. Photo from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department

“The can certainly impacted the bear’s hearing and vision, but overall it appeared quite healthy and had only a few minor scratches,” the department said in the video.

A video taken after the operation shows the bear waking from its stupor and standing up before darting off into the woods without looking.

Black bears, the smallest of the three North American bear species, are the only type of bear found in Vermont.

“If you live in Vermont, you live in bear country, and we are all responsible for discouraging bears from seeing our yards as a food source,” the department said. “Coexistence is critical to the future of Vermont’s bears and our part includes keeping our food, compost and waste products tidy or safe.”

Enosburgh is a small town in northern Vermont, near the Canadian border.

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