TORONTO — An elusive black bear that had its head stuck in a pickle jar for the last two weeks is no longer in a pickle, wildlife officials confirm.
Conservation officers near Thunder Bay, Ont., say an empty jar found on the shores of Lake Superior is the same jar the curious animal had been struggling with.
Officials say the jar, which was found with a large clump of black fur inside, is the same style, size and shape as the jar seen on the bear’s head in a photo taken this week.
The jar has scratches on it, and a hole consistent with a claw mark, officials say. It was found about a kilometre away from where the bear was last spotted.
“I’m hoping that he pulled it off. The worst would be that he tried to swim and the jug would fill up with water, and he’d drown,” said Ross Johnston, a conservation officer with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources.
“I don’t expect we’ll hear from mister bear again.”
It’s a storybook happy ending that some liken to the tale of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, who also got his head stuck in a jar while trying to slurp up the last drop of honey.
A local resident snapped a photo of the black bear and pickle jar Tuesday, showing the bear had lost a significant amount of weight. The jar prevented the animal from eating or drinking, and some were worried it could die.
Some residents also criticized the ministry’s response and wanted officials to step up their search.
Ray Blais, a caretaker at a dump in Hurkett, Ont., where the curious bear is believed to have found the jar, said he saw the bear on July 11.
He said he saw officials come within 15 metres of the animal, but they missed shooting it with a tranquilizer dart.
“They said they took a shot at it and missed it, but why did they leave the bear in that position? Why didn’t they stay around to try to collar it?” Blais said.
Officials struggled to keep up with the bear because it was last seen in a heavily wooded area, Johnston said.
“It’s completely forested, so you’re trying to find a bear that doesn’t want to be seen and will run away from you in dense bush,” he said. “We were relying on the public to call and give us updates.”
The bear was last seen on Lambert Island, some 40 kilometres east of Thunder Bay.
Officials had set a trap there, but said they feared the bear would not be able to smell the meat.