Florida Bear Freed After 28 Days Stuck in Plastic Container

A Florida black bear.

A Florida black bear. FWC

A Florida bear is finally free after living nearly a month with a plastic container stuck to her head.

The bear was first spotted with her head in the container nearly three weeks ago, but then disappeared. She was finally rescued this week, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wrote on Facebook.

“Luckily that hole provided enough access to drink and eat. Even after 28 days of wearing it, the bear was still in great physical shape,” FWC wrote.

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The effort to rescue the bear began when she was first reported to be wandering around stuck in the container in Florida’s Collier County, as Newsweek reported. FWC’s bear biologists joined with law enforcement and bear contractors to set traps and monitor the area, but the bear was only spotted twice before dropping off of their radar.

“Finally, the bear was spotted on a resident’s security camera, still wearing the container on its head! Staff set new traps and started night patrols of the neighborhood,” FWC wrote.

An FWC bear biologist darted the 250 pound female, allowing the container to be removed. The ordeal did leave a wound around her neck and face, but staff cleaned the injury and gave her antibiotics.

“We actually captured the bear. We kept it overnight for evaluation. We had a veterinarian take a look at it. We cleaned it up and gave it some antibiotics and then turned it loose in bear habitat. This bear is going to be just fine out in the wild now,” FWC assistant bear program coordinator Mike Orlando told WFTS.

The bear was released into the Picayune Strand State Forest.

The incident is another example of how plastic can harm land animals as well as marine life. In this case, officials think the bear got stuck trying to eat from an automatic pet feeder.

“It looks like this bear stuck its head in from the top maybe to get the dog or cat food and had the jar stuck not completely over its head but right in front of its ear around its face,” Orlando told WFTS.

To protect both bears and humans, Florida wildlife officials recommend the following actions:

  1. Securing garbage or getting a wildlife-resistant trash container.
  2. Bringing pet food inside.
  3. Cleaning and securely storing grills.
  4. Removing or bear-proofing wildlife feeders.

Florida has around 4,050 Florida black bears, a subspecies of the American black bear, according to Newsweek. In the fall, bears prepare for hibernation by chowing down on 20,000 calories a day. Garbage is especially tempting to the animals during this time, because it provides more calories more quickly than seeking food in the forest.

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