TALLAHASSEE, FL — It was a site (sic) you don’t see everyday in the Panhandle in Florida. A man saved a bear from drowning last week. It all started after residents spotted a 375-pound black bear roaming through a neighborhood 40 miles south of Tallahassee. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) found the bear underneath a beachfront home. They say it was probably trying to cool off. The goal was to lure it back into the wild.
So, officials used a tranquilizer dart on it. But, there was a problem. It did not work immediately. Biologist Adam Warwick, who struggled with the bear, said it tried to escaped and went into the Gulf of Mexico.
It was at that point Warwick said he could see the effects of the tranquilizer on the bear. He made a quick decision. Warwick went in after the animal.
The bear was about 25 yards from shore when it went into the water. Warwick said his adrenaline just kicked in. He didn’t want the black bear to drown.
He saw it losing its mobility. Warwick tried to splash and create a commotion to get it back to shore. That did not work. He said the bear looked confused and then got up on its hind legs as if it were about to lunge at him and fell backwards into the water.
Warwick says after a few seconds the bear popped his head out of the water and moved around, but could not keep its head above water. He went into action. The biologist kept one arm underneath the bear and gripped the scruff of its neck with his other hand. During the journey across the ocean, he walked barefoot over concrete blocks in the 4-foot-deep water with the bear. The job was not easy. It became a bit more challenging when an FWC officer and a bystander with a boat came up to the pair. Warwick says this startled the bear. He lost his grip until the two in the boat moved away.
Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any more interesting, as the two, man and bear, made it to shore a person with a backhoe showed up out of nowhere according to Warwick. They loaded the animal into the backhoe and then into an FWC truck.
The bear survived. Eventually, it was released into the Osceola National Forest near Lake City.
As for Warwick, he cut his feet as we walked over the concrete in the ocean and the bear scratched him once on the foot. Other than that he does not have any major injuries, but he has one big tale to tell
D’OH! Glad it ended well with no serious injuries for the biologist and survival of the bear. He probably won’t come back to that neighborhood anymore.