Connecting state and local government leaders

Local Officials to the Rescue for One Bear, One Kitten and Nine Ducklings


Connecting state and local government leaders

When animals need rescuing, local government workers come together and lend a helping hand.

At this point, it’s a man’s world and animals are just living in it.

As urban areas across the country increase their spread, it becomes more and more inevitable that wildlife will come into contact with human infrastructure, and not always with positive outcomes for the animals in question.

Luckily for the ducks, bears and cats of the world, kindly local officials around the country step in and lend a helping hand—equipped with crucial opposable thumbs—when these furry and feathered friends get themselves into a bind.

In the case of one black bear near the Alaskan town of Tok, that bind came in the form of an antique coffee can.

The bear was seen wandering up and down one stretch of highway with a rusty teal and white tin container stuck on its head. Fish and Game assistant biologist Jeff Wells said that calls alerting the department to the bear’s predicament began coming in at about 8:30 a.m. on Monday.

One person—apparently an employee of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities—even tried to help the bear before he was tranquilized. Randy Rallo, another passerby, reported that the man “stopped and tried to take the thing off, and the bear swatted at him and it barely missed him.”

By 10:30 a.m., Wells and a Fish and Game wildlife technician arrived on the scene, knocked the bear out with a tranquilizer dart and were able to use a pair of tin snips to widen the can’s opening enough to free the bear’s head. The bear, who appeared to be around three years old and 100 pounds was in “fairly good shape,” according to Wells, “so it must not have had the can on its head for a really long time.”

In this case, it was lucky the bear wandered close enough to the road to be spotted by his rescuers.

Another of this week’s animal rescues stands out for its ability to bring together multiple sectors of local government.

Rescuing a weeks-old gray kitten from a storm drain in Evansville, Indiana took a combined effort from members of the city’s police force, sewer and transportation crews and animal control. A councilman-at-large, Michelle Mercer, even joined in to help the little creature.

"I'm an animal lover and have experience at kitty rescuing so this is very unexpected and unusual city council duties," said Mercer.

For more than four hours, those involved in the effort tried to get the cat to come out of the drain using a trap, toys, and a net with cat food inside.

They managed to get the cat out of the drain just in time. Storms rolled in soon after the cat was retrieved from the drain pipe.

One of the kitten’s rescuers, Claudia Congleton, even plans to adopt it.

Wednesday appears to have been a busy day in animals-stuck-in-storm-drains news for Indiana. Police and Animal Care Services in Columbus, Indiana managed to free nine ducklings from a drain on Wednesday.

Local officials were able to pull the ducklings from the pipe using their bare hands and a net and reunited them with the rest of their family.

These episodes prove that nothing gets local government working together quite like a cute animal in need.

Quinn Libson writes for Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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