Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

1,000-pound polar bear rescued from fishing net

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A recent post by the U.S. Geological Survey on Facebook sounds like the set-up for a classic joke.

“How do you rescue a 1,000-pound polar bear trapped in a fishing net?”

The answer?

“You untangle it. Well, actually, it’s pretty complicated, especially when it’s located in a remote Arctic location.”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) discovered a large male polar bear tangled inside a leftover fishing net on a small barrier in the Beaufort Sea near Alaska. With the help of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists and the local community of Kaktovik, the USGS was able to remove the polar bear from the net.

But the whole procedure wasn’t as simple as cutting a couple of ropes.

Soaring above in a helicopter, the biologists used tranquilizer darts to sedate the bear. Local members of the community then used boats and buoys to make sure the polar bear would not drown while the bear became sedated. Once the tranquilizers took effect, the USGS checked the bear for any injuries and then began untangling the net. Luckily, the bear was unharmed and could be released back into the wild.

Known as “ghost nets,” forgotten or lost fishing nets in the ocean can entangle marine animals like sharks, dolphins, crocodiles, sea birds, and crabs. If a creature becomes trapped in a net, it can often die from starvation, lacerations or suffocation.

On Facebook, the USGS said the mission was “a great effort by all to keep this magnificent animal in the wild.”