After two months with a bucket stuck on its head, animal loving strangers wrestled a bear to the ground and set it free.
It's like Pooh got his head so stuck in a honey pot that he became Eeyore.
A suburban saga of social media and animal rescue unfolded this weekend as the plight of 'Bucket Bear' quickly attracted the attention of the residents of Perry Township, PA, where the bear was spotted multiple times wandering with what appeared to be a bucket stuck on his head. Wildlife Department officials have been aware of the bear for at least a month (there have been sightings since June), but claimed they could not assist because the bear was not hurting anyone. It finally became public knowledge when Krissy Elder used a photo of the bear wandering on the side of Route 368 to begin a "Save The 'Bucket Bear'" Facebook page on August 31st. "I watched the bear bounce its head off the fence," said Elder, "that poor bear couldn't see where it was walking."
Wildlife Department officials told Elder they wouldn't help (they currently state that they had a live-trap set out for it), but after seeing the page, animal rescue volunteers Dean Hornberger and Samantha Eigenbrod decided they couldn't just sit and do nothing. So, on their Labor Day off, they set out to find the bear in the area it was most recently spotted. After coming up empty for a while, they returned to the stretch of road where it was seen in Elder's Facebook photo. There it was, and while Eigenbrod caught it all on camera, Hornberger just went ahead and tried to yank it off. The bear slipped free, but fortunately a car pulled over and Shawn Balcita, Eric Kribbel and Kaitlyn Lakin joined the effort. They chased the bear along a creek for 20 minutes and turned the ground into "the biggest mudhole in the area" before finally everyone jumped on top of the bear, allowing Shawn Balcita to pin it down in a sleeper hold.
You're a blurry, pixelated image of masculinity, Balcita. (via Facebook)
That's when they found out that the bucket was actually a "maxi," a kind of metal airbag that keeps tractor-trailers that have been joined from crunching together, and that the maxi's metal ring had slipped over the back of the bear's head. A simple Leatherman pocket tool saw failed to do the job, and so a hacksaw was required. After a whole lot of effort and some very good footage of a man holding down a bear, it was finally pried off and the bear ran off into the woods. The volunteers suffered only a few scratches, although Balcita noted that his job was a lot easier because the bear was severely underweight for this time of year (when bears begin to feast for hibernation) at only 180-200 pounds, and seemed to be exhausted. There was a small opening in the maxi near the bear's mouth that presumably allowed it to eat enough to survive this long.
Next on "Images you won't believe don't have an idiot in them." (via Facebook)
In related news, there is now a very hungry bear running around Pennsylvania.
(by Johnny McNulty)