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A Brrr-illiant Rescue: Minnesota Bear Saved from Icy Culvert!



Quick Smiles:

  • A black bear in Wannaska, Minnesota was trapped in a storm culvert during its hibernation after the snow around melted, flooded, and froze again.
  • Wildlife research biologist, Andrew Tri, and a team successfully anesthetized and extricated the bear, giving it a full health check-up before transporting it to Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area.
  • The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shared the rescue story on Facebook, reminding the public to avoid interfering with wild bears and to call authorities if they observe a bear in distress.

It was not an ordinary day for residents near Wannaska, Minnesota, when a 6-year-old black bear made an unexpected decision to hibernate in a storm culvert.

Little did the bear know that he’d soon be the ‘star’ of a heartwarming rescue operation!

Late in February, as winter began to loosen its icy grip, the snow started melting, leading to the flooding of the bear’s chosen hibernation spot. Not so ideal anymore, right?

The culvert then froze again, trapping the poor bear for three days. Finally, kind residents spotted the entombed bear and called authorities to lend a paw.

At the scene, several attempts to extricate the bear had already been made, including luring him out with what one might call a bear’s version of junk food.

Luckily, our hibernating friend wasn’t in the mood for a snack. Andrew Tri, a wildlife research biologist, and a Roseau County deputy arrived to evaluate the situation.


The biologist detailed the bear’s predicament: “He tried to push himself out and kind of got wedged on some frozen water that had frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed and got stuck in place and tired.”

The rescue team anesthetized the bear using a syringe pole. Once he was snoozing, it took the muscle of five men to pull the hefty bear, weighing in between 375 and 400 pounds, from his icy confines.

After a thorough check-up from Andrew, the bear was declared fit, albeit a little groggy.

Affectionately dubbed ‘paw cuffs’ were used to safely transport the bear to his temporary home in the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in Marshall County.

“He’s in the back of a pickup truck now, and we’ll make him a new den,” said Andrew. “He probably won’t stay, but at least it will give him some protection from the elements after that.”


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources took to Facebook to share this unusual rescue, reminding the public to steer clear from interfering with wild bears.

If a bear seems to be in distress, they advise, give them a call but do not try to move or feed the bear.

We bet you didn’t know that bears sometimes hibernate above ground! Well, now we all know, and we’re happy that this one found help just in time.

Here’s to hoping he makes a better choice for his next winter nap!