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Bear Rescued From Sierra Bridge Ledge

September 29, 2007

TRUCKEE, Calif. – A 250-pound bear stranded under a bridge near Lake Tahoe was saved by an army of rescuers, a tranquilizer dart and a nylon net bought at an Army surplus store.

Claw marks on the concrete railing of the Rainbow Bridge show where the bruin’s ordeal began, said Dave Baker of the Truckee BEAR League, who was the first to arrive on the scene Sept. 15.

It was walking across the span on Highway 40 near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada when at least two oncoming cars spooked it, causing it to jump over the railing.

At one point it was dangling over the edge of the 80-foot-high bridge, but it caught a ledge and pulled itself onto a concrete girder beneath the bridge.

Officials initially decided nothing could be done, but when they returned the next morning and found it sleeping on the ledge, they decided to take action.

Volunteers strung the net beneath the bridge 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 wilderness.

“I’ve been on a lot of bear rescues,” Baker said, “and this is the most intense bear call that I’ve been on.”




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