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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Wolf trapper’s job tougher when the catch is a bear

TRAPPING -- Trapping wolves is tricky business in state's where it's legal, especially when a black bear is captured by the steel jaws of a leg-hold trap.  Bears are required to be released.

Here's a bit of the drama involved with tranquilizing and releasing a big bruin, as told by a North Idaho trapper.

"A fellow trapper got a big boar in his wolf trap (Monday) and called Idaho Fish and Game to dart it so it could be released," said North Idaho trapper Kevin Sawyer.

I hung around to offer assistance and words of encouragement!

After a few tries to get a dart into the muscle, the bear began to get sleepy. The 3/4-inch needle wasn't very effective in 3 inches of winter fat!

With the trapper and officer holding a release pole on his head, I used levers to open the trap jaws. As I pulled the opened trap off his toes he woke up just long enough to show his thanks by biting me on the arm!

Snap! OUCH! Another battle scar.

Just another day in the woods with a bear.

We both expect to make a full recovery!

Sawyer noted that the bear had no damage to its foot from being caught in the trap.

"The offset trap held it between the toes and the pad."

He said the Fish and Game officer did everything possible to keep the bear calm and give the correct dosage in the required manner.

He said he holds no grudge against the bear for biting him.

"This bear never moved for the entire time I got the lever bars on the trap and opened the jaws," Sawyer said. "It was an instinctive snap out of the middle of his dream."

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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