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Strangers rescue black bear with head stuck in bucket near Clarion, Pa.

A group of good samaritans took pity on a 150 pound black bear who had been roaming for almost 2 months along roads in western Pennsylvania, blinded by a large bucket that had become stuck over its head. They finally rescued the animal on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014 at about 1 p.m. local time, according to reports published in The Patriot-News, the Daily Mail, and other global media sources.

A black bear, unable to eat or see properly for two months with his head stuck in a bucket, has been rescued by strangers.
A black bear, unable to eat or see properly for two months with his head stuck in a bucket, has been rescued by strangers.
Shawn Balcita / Facebook
The "Bucket Bear" of Clarion County, Pa. walks along Rt. 368 prior to its release from the object on its head by a group of volunteer rescuers.
Krissy Elder / Facebook

The "Bucket Bear", as locals called it, had not been able to feed, see, or even avoid natural obstacles and traffic after becoming trapped with its head inside an airbag-shaped rubber bucket that had likely broken off from a tractor trailer. Residents had reported the wandering bear to police and the Pennsylvania Game Commission on July 4, but authorities refused to take action as long as the animal remained mobile.

Upset by the bear's predicament, after hearing about it on the "Save The Bucket Bear" Facebook page created by Krissy Elder of Seneca, Pa., a group of friends led by Dean Hornberger, age 35, and Samantha Eigenbrod, age 28, of Sligo, Pa., decided to intervene. What followed was a daring rescue. The group tracked the juvenile animal for nearly 2 hours until it was finally spotted in an open field. Initial efforts to remove the object failed. They persisted, and followed the bear over a fence, across State highway 368, and through woods, where 36-year-old Shawn Balcita of Clarendon, Pa. tackled the beast and pinned it down.

As Hornberger cut at the metal retaining rim with a hacksaw and scissors, the bear appeared to sense that humans were trying to help it. Low grunts from the animal could be heard on the video that recorded the rescue efforts, showing the muscular animal had stopped struggling and seemed to be resting patiently. However, as soon as the obstacle cleared its head, the bear jumped up and bounded off into the woods without looking back.

The State Game Commission has not commented on reasons for avoiding action. During the rescue, the volunteers were heard saying that their efforts could have been easier and safer if the bear had been tranquilized. They were also using just their instincts, some rope and basic tools, without prior training or experience in dealing with wild animals. Even so, the only injuries were deep scratches to the extremities of two of the men.

This was not the first time that wildlife have become tangled with manmade objects. Bears and smaller forest mammals, including raccoons, foxes, and possums, have been known to get their body parts stuck in milk cans and bottles while foraging for food. But in this recent incident, of the "Bucket Bear", and those who came to its aid, this will likely be an adventure not soon forgotten.

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