When a 400 pound, 7-foot-tall black bear somehow made its way out of the Osceola Forest and begin to lumber around the town, nobody was quite sure what to make of it. Was the bear ill? While he didn't do anything directly threatening, it's naturally unsafe to have a bear wandering the streets of a town that is full of people. So, townspeople did the correct thing and called animal control who contacted nature conservancy personnel.
Adam Warwick was one of the wildlife experts that responded. The bear was not aggressive, but seemed lost and he knew it could become agitated. The department of natural resources decided the safest thing to do would be the tranquilize the lost bear, which they successfully did when they shot him in the right hind quarter with a tranquilizing dart as planned. It takes a bit for the tranquilizer to work, so officials weren't particularly concerned when he continued to be alert and walk upright, looking unfazed.
However, things became very tricky when the bear started towards the beach in Osceola. It was unthinkable that a bear might enter the ocean, but that's exactly what this one did. He still did not look woozy nor tranquilized, so DNR officials kept a safe distance while they watched what he would do, hoping he would turn back after he walked along the shore for a bit.
Unfortunately, that's not what he did - he walked straight into the ocean, headed for open water, while animal conservancy officials called for a boat and decided what their next move would be. Suddenly, there wasn't any time left to decide - the bear was in water over its head and the tranquilizer dart had begun to take effect. He was woozy and having difficulty holding his head above the water. It was clear he was going to drown. For animal conservatory officer Adam Warwick, there wasn't even a choice about what needed to be done.
"It was a spur of the moment decision. I had a lot of adrenaline pumping when I saw the bear in the water."Luckily for Adam and the bear, the bear didn't put up a fight about being helped and let Adam guide it back to shore with little struggle.
After they reached shallow water, other people assisted with a crane, a boat, and a truck, taking to bear back to the woods before his tranquilizer dart was completely worn off. Before they parted ways, however, it appeared the bear had a look of admiration for Adam, his savior. The bear is back in the Osceola woods and Adam is no worse for the wear.
[images by Becky Blickenstaff/Adam Warwick of the Nature Conservancy]