By: Joanne M. Haas/DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement
While the Green Bay Packers were taking care of the Chicago Bears Sunday at Soldier Field, two Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wardens on patrol pulled off a real safety for two bear cubs that rushed a Polk County tree and failed to convert.
This was a long play that started Saturday with an offsides call from a Polk County woman who heard some strange animal noises. She followed the noise and found a nose; well, make that a snout sticking out of a crack in a tree trunk. Whatever it was, it clearly had some things to say about the current housing arrangement.
She decided the best option at that time was to leave the animal alone to take care of its business. But, she wasn't about to forget it either. This is when DNR Conservation Wardens Phil Dorn of Barron County and Jesse Ashton of Polk County were about to get involved.
“She went back on Sunday," says Warden Phil, who was covering a portion of northwestern Wisconsin with partner Warden Jesse. The woman saw that same snout sticking out of that same tree. "She figured whatever it was couldn’t get out.”
And she was right.
The woman wasn’t about to just leave it there. After all, a whole day had gone by. So, in an effort to get help for the trapped animal, she called the Polk County Sheriff’s Department. The Polk County Sheriff’s Department, in an effort to help the animal, called the wardens for this Wisconsin wildlife case. And the wardens, in an effort to help the animal, decided they needed another teammate in the huddle.
“We then called a wildlife rehabilitation expert in Polk County," Warden Phil says. Good call! "And she went to check it out.”
This wasn’t the scouting report the wardens expected. This wasn't just one snout spouting off inside this tree near Milltown. “There were two cubs in one tree!”
It looked like the two cubs pulled off a quarterbear sneak inside the tree, which in turn dropped some of its internal debris in a timely tackle-and-trap play. The bears just didn't have an answer to that surprise maneuver. Now it was up to the wardens to draw the game plan. After their assessment, the wardens decided this was a job for someone with a tree saw -- and knew how to use it!
“We contacted the Milltown Fire Department,” Warden Phil says. Makes sense! The firefighters, as you'd expect, were happy to answer the call for help, and leave behind the broadcast of the Sunday NFL game. By this time, the Packers were rolling over the Bears onto a 38-17 win, so it was only fitting to help some real bears rolling over each other in their own Red Zone.
The cubs were quite curious when their rescuers arrived. One of the little guys jammed as much of its head as it could out of the trunk crack to keep watch on these wardens and firefighters circling the tree, discussing the game plan before deciding on the sweet spot to saw the window of freedom.
“We cut a hole in the tree and then we all backed off and waited,” Dorn says. But, they didn’t have to wait long as the two cubs clearly had enough of being nose-to-hip in an old tree. “The cubs crawled out and ran back into the woods.” Let's call it a victory scamper.
A fitting end to another good day in Wisconsin as two bears score freedom, thanks to the home team. Programming note: The Packers play the Vikings tonight... better alert the DNR Marine Wardens just to be safe.
If you have information regarding natural resource violations, please call: VIOLATION HOTLINE: 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367. The hotline is in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Trained staff relay reported information to conservation wardens. Anyone who calls the Violation Hotline or provides information can remain anonymous.