JAMISON CITY, Pa. – Four central Pennsylvania residents said they used only a rope and a flashlight during a wild chase to rescue a young bear whose head had been stuck in a plastic jar for at least 11 days.
The frightened but powerful bruin fell into a swimming pool at least twice during the ordeal, according to a report Saturday in the Press Enterprise of Bloomsburg. But the group eventually yanked off the jar and set the animal free.
"I thought, `No one is going to believe us,"' said Morgan Laskowski, 22, the bartender at the Jamison City Hotel and a member of the impromptu bear-wrangling team.
Area residents first spotted the 100-pound bruin with its head in a red jar on June 3, but it eluded game wardens. The animal was attracted to the container because it appeared to have once contained cooking oil.
"He put his head in, and had a problem," said Mike Jurbala, 68, another rescuer. "He'd have died in a couple more days."
Jurbala saw the bear Thursday night as he was leaving the bar at the Jamison City Hotel. He called Jeff Hubler, a local employee of the state Game Commission who had been among those trying to capture it for days with a lasso.
The two teamed up with Laskowski and her mother, bar owner Jody Boyle, to follow the bear through the darkness.
"You knew where he was because you could hear him banging into things," Jurbala said.
They cornered the bear in a resident's backyard, where it ended up falling into a pool a couple of times. Eventually, they wrangled the animal into a position where Hubler could pull off the jar.
"You'd think the bear would be weak, because it hadn't eaten or drunk for a week, but it was strong," Boyle said.
Hubler said people should keep lids on food jars that they throw away.