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Hiker frees bear cub from jug

March 8, 2012 at 6:13 PM

KETCHIKAN, Alaska, March 8 (UPI) -- A hiker on top of a snowy Alaska mountain said he saved the life of a bear cub by freeing its tiny head from a plastic jug in which it was stuck.

Hiker Michael Schuler Sunday trekked up Ketchikan's Deer Mountain with his dog, Josie, to do some informal avalanche testing and was about 10 feet from the peak when he saw something in the snow, the Ketchikan Daily News reported.

At first it looked human but then realized it was an animal, Schuler said Tuesday.

"I knew it wasn't a marten ... so I thought it was either a bear cub or a wolverine," Schuler said, adding he thought, "A bear cub I can handle, but if it's a wolverine and I pull that thing off, I'm toast."

He had his cellphone but was unsuccessful in contacting wildlife authorities and decided to take matters into his own hands, the newspaper said Wednesday.

Schuler tried holding onto the jar and letting the cub pull, then tried pulling while the cub also pulled, and then tried picking up the jar and shaking it a bit.

"He still didn't come out, poor thing," Schuler said.

Desperate times called for desperate measures, and Schuler brought out his ice ax.

"I was basically able to sit on him, hold him by the scruff and make a slice into the neck of the jar," Schuler said.

When Schuler cut enough of the jar, the tiny 10-pound cub "popped out, backed up, spun around and went straight down the south side into the trees."

Schuler said he was upset so many people were careless about leaving trash around after they camped, the newspaper said.

"Just because some people are careless, doesn't mean we should overlook it," Schuler said. "Think about what's up there."

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