Suicidal Bear Reconsiders

On 15 September 2007, a 250-pound bear wandered onto Rainbow Bridge on Old Highway 40 near Donner Summit in the Lake Tahoe, California, area of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Apparently frightened by approaching automobile traffic, the large bruin went over the railing, then caught a ledge and pulled itself onto a concrete girder beneath the 80-foot-high bridge.

Animal control officials initially left the bear alone, undecided about what action they could take to help it out of its predicament. But when they found the bear asleep on the ledge the following morning, they enacted a plan to rescue it.

While volunteers held a nylon net (purchased at an Army surplus store) in place beneath the ledge, an animal control officer shot the bruin with a tranquilizer dart. The volunteers used a pole to push the groggy bear into the net then lowered it to the floor of the ravine spanned by the bridge, where, after the bruin recovered consciousness, it was guided away from the crowd of onlookers and back into the wilderness.