Wildlife officials kill bear with its head stuck in jar

Associated Press

A bear with a plastic jar over its head led police on a six-day chase through the forests of Hubbard and Becker counties before it was shot and killed, state wildlife officials said.

Officials had hoped to capture the wild black bear, whose head got stuck inside a 2 1/2-gallon plastic jar, but decided to shoot the animal after it wandered into the city of Frazee during the town’s busy Turkey Days celebration.

"When it got into town, our main concern was public safety," said Rob Naplin, the Department of Natural Resources’ area wildlife supervisor in Park Rapids.

The bear was foraging for food, perhaps at a dumpster, when its head got stuck in the clear, plastic container. Naplin said he wasn’t sure of the container’s original contents but said it looked like a jar for bulk candy or popcorn.


While the bear could breathe, it couldn’t eat or drink and was likely suffering from dehydration and hunger. "I’m sure there was high anxiety and frustration with its predicament," Naplin said. "It is (a sad story)."

There was no evidence the bear was baited by hunters, Naplin said. The legal baiting season doesn’t open until Aug. 15. The bear season opens Sept. 1.

The bear, with the jar on its head, was first reported near the town of Lake George on July 21.

The next day it showed up at Itasca State Park near some dumpsters and DNR officials deployed a trap made of a steel barrel to try to catch it and remove the jar. The bear wouldn’t enter the trap, however, and was last seen Wednesday night on the park’s east side, the jar wedged on its head over one ear.

"We attempted to locate a dart gun to tranquilize it, but it left the park," said Naplin, who estimated the bear was about 2-years-old. "It was on the move."

The next day, the bear was spotted at a Boy Scout camp on Many Point Lake about 15 miles southwest of the park. By then, the DNR had two wildlife and four enforcement officers looking for the animal.

The bear showed up next in Frazee, where conservation officers decided it needed to be killed to avoid conflicts with humans.

By then, the jar had slipped down over both of the bear’s ears.


"You don’t want it knocking over a kid or getting hit by a car," Naplin said. "Showing up in Frazee escalated the urgency of dispatching it."

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