A Colorado man may have saved a black bear from a long and painful death last week by lassoing it and then wrestling the animal down to the ground. An unconventional method, but bed-and-breakfast owner Jim Hawkins said he was glad to help. The Glenwood Springs resident said he and his wife first saw the bear several days previously with what appeared to be a cheese puff bucket lodged firmly on its head. Several calls were made to wildlife officials, but by the time an officer arrived, the bear was already long gone. Figuring that the bear probably did not have much time left, Hawkins decided to take matters into his own hands.
“He was just a little bear with a big problem,” Hawkins told the Post Independent. “He was a 2-year-old with a space helmet on.”
Putting on a pair of thick work gloves and armed with a length of rope, 66-year-old Hawkins confronted the bear. He didn’t have to go far—the animal was stumbling through his yard at the time. Hawkins threw a lasso around the bear and began an odd game of tug-of-war. Unfortunately, the bear quickly discovered that the line slackened whenever it approached Hawkins, so it decided to charge its would-be rescuer instead.
“I thought he couldn’t see very well out of that jar, but once he started coming at me, I could sure tell he knew where he was going,” Hawkins told The Washington Post.
You can see a video of the bear below:
With its face stuck in the bucket, the bear was not able to bite Hawkins, but he still had to watch out for the animal’s sharp claws. Hawkins said the two wrestled briefly, ending with both of them on the ground before the bear retreated up a tree. At that point, Hawkins tied the lasso to the trunk and called for wildlife officers to retrieve the animal.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife adamantly discourages people from attempting to wrestle wild animals, but in this case, the result seems to be a happy one—save for some non-life-threatening injuries to Hawkins. The bear was tranquilized and the cheese puff container later removed (see video below). Officials say the bear should be back to prime condition in no time. Hawkins, however, was rewarded for his bravery with a few new stitches, but some accolades as well.