A polar bear that was tangled up in a fishing line off a remote Alaskan island has been freed, thanks to the efforts of agents from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and some local residents, NBC News is reporting.
That dramatic polar bear rescue took place on Saturday but is only now gaining attention in the national media.
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) September 7, 2015
It’s unclear how long the polar bear — a 1,000-pound male — had been entangled when he was first spotted, nor is it clear how his plight was brought to anyone’s attention. Regardless of the circumstances of his predicament, the USGS came to his aid. In a Facebook post, the agency described how they were able to save the polar bear.
“How do you rescue a 1,000 pound polar bear trapped in a fishing net? You untangle it. Well, actually, it’s pretty complicated, especially when it’s located in a remote Arctic location. Late [Saturday] USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists, with help from the local community of Kaktovik, successfully freed a large male polar bear that was entangled in a fishing net on a small barrier island in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska.”
“The biologists first darted the bear from a helicopter and then local residents, using boats, kept the bear from drowning while the tranquilizers took effect. Once the bear was sedated, the biologists worked to quickly untangle the bear from the net and after determining it appeared uninjured from its ordeal, released it back into the wild. A great effort by all to keep this magnificent animal in the wild.”
For the most part, the reaction to the polar bear rescue has been overwhelmingly positive, with Facebook commenters praising the USGS and the locals for their role in the effort. Unfortunately, no good deed goes unpunished, as the saying goes, and in the Facebook comments, more than one user has criticized the local fishermen (and women) for putting fishing nets into the ocean (where polar bears and other animals can get tangled up in them) in the first place.
One poster, claiming to be from an Alaskan fishing village, didn’t take that criticism lightly.
“We fish for our winters supply of food [and] fish is one of our diet [sic], so you all don’t know about survival in the arctic. [And] we fish so we won’t pay that high priced meats and other poison filled beef you all buy from the store! So you don’t know anyone form [sic] our village so keep your judgement to yourself!”
Polar bears are considered endangered, according to MSN, as climate change continues to shrink the animals’ habitat.