One often wonders what prompts great men into action, to perform feats of daring without a thought for their own well-being. Some of us may never know, but many will feel the effect of their heroism, including a near 400-lb Floridian black bear.
A resident bear at Florida’s Osceola National Forest has recently come into the spotlight and had a bit of adventure after wandering to a nearby residential area at Alligator Point. The bear probably smelled something delicious brewing over the next hill that required investigating.
A true amateur, the bear was caught red-handed shuffling through someone’s trash. Wildlife authorities were called to handle the matter. True to their standard protocol of subduing any wild animal caught in a residential area, they shoot at the bear with a tranquilizer dart.
However, that’s where this story deviated from standard procedure. The bear was hit with the dart, but it did not work fast enough. The bear began wandering away, confused and probably visually impaired as it was headed towards open water. Before long, the bear was at the water’s edge and then fell in. As the bear was pulled further away from the shore, it struggled to swim back, but the tranquilizers had already started to kick in. 
A daring rescue
Enter the hero of this tale, Adam Warwick, a Florida biologist and part-time animal savior to show us the meaning of bravery. It takes a special type of person to see a 400-pound bear drowning and immediately decide to save it. In any other situation, the bear could have had him for lunch easily.
But Warwick, who worked with the Wildlife Commission, was confident that that wasn’t going to be the case here, so he sprang into action and swam out to meet the bear. The bear had the fight knocked out of him by this time and could only struggle to keep his giant head above the water.
With quick, fluid strokes, Warwick made his way to the bear and hooked his arm around its neck, without even flinching at its size and strength. The bear who could barely move at this point struggled to cling onto Warwick to keep afloat. Working quickly and calmly, Warwick began to drag the bear to shore. 
A 400-pound bear is no rag doll, but the brave biologist just kept swimming towards shore with the almost immobile bear whose head kept ducking under the water. Warwick had to cross a distance of over 25 yards to reach land, but he managed it successfully to the applause of the crowd that had gathered to help.
Warwick was hoisted to land, but the bear proved too heavy to lift, so they had to procure a tractor bucket that transferred it to a waiting transport vehicle. The bear was eventually carted off to his home at the nearby National Forest, but not before Warwick said goodbye.
Curiosity killed the…bear?
Bears are inquisitive animals and will go out of their way to inspect noises, odors, and objects to determine if they are edible or can be played with. Most times, they stand up on their hind legs to get more information and better position its senses of sight, smell, and hearing. This move is often considered to be a sign of aggression, but it is actually curiosity. 
Bears are known to wander in search of new smells or to forage for food but they are not necessarily dangerous when they do this since they can become accustomed to people just like they do other bears. They are also not territorial, and they can share home ranges just like people. It is also not uncommon to see bear families, usually a few bear cubs and a mother wandering around as they search for food and new hunting grounds.
So, if you happen upon a bear, keep your distance and know that it will do the same. However, there are several different strategies you can use if you ever feel threatened by the presence of a bear. These include:
- Never try to outrun a grizzly bear since they can run much faster than humans.
- Never attempt to climb a tree to get away from a black bear because they are natural climbers. 
- Play dead or stay in a fetal position for at least 20 minutes if near a grizzly bear.
It’s important to note that defense strategies are different depending on the bear. Before trekking into natural reserves and camping spots, research the possibilities of encountering bears and the best response to take in that situation.
- “Man Saves Black Bear From Drowning”, CBS News. June 2008.
- “Brave Man Saving a Drowning 400-lb Black Bear Is Possibly one of the Greatest Rescue Stories Ever!“, One Green Planet.
- “Behaviour“, Bear Smart. 2000.
- “What Do You Do If You Encounter A Bear?!What Do You Do If You Encounter A Bear?!“, Curiosity.