TRUCKEE, Calif. – A 250-pound bear got a lift to safety after it found itself stranded on a bridge near Lake Tahoe and at one point dangling over the edge.
The bruin was walking across Rainbow Bridge on Highway 40 west near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada when at least two oncoming cars spooked it, causing it to jump over the bridge railing.
Saving itself from an 80-foot fall, the bear caught a ledge and pulled itself onto a concrete girder beneath the bridge.
Dave Baker of the Truckee BEAR League was the first to arrive on the scene Sept 15. He said he saw claw marks on the concrete railing where the bear struggled for a secure hold.
Officials decided nothing could be done after they first spotted the bear that Saturday afternoon. But they decided to take action when they returned the next morning and found it sleeping on the ledge.
Volunteers strung a nylon net from an Army surplus store beneath the 80-year-old span, and an animal control officer shot the bear with a tranquilizer dart.
After the bear lost consciousness, volunteers used a pole to push it into the net, then lowered the bear onto the floor of the granite-strewn ravine as more than 100 spectators cheered.
The groggy bear was steered away from the crowds and back into the Sierra wilderness.
"I've been on a lot of bear rescues, and this is the most intense bear call that I've been on," Baker said.