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Adam Warwick Saves Drowning Bear

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“It’s a lot easier to drag a bear in 4-foot water than move him on dry land.” -Adam Warwick

Adam Warwick, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist, pulled off a daring rescue of a bear in July 2008. Florida officials say the 375-pound male black bear was seen roaming a residential neighborhood in search of food near Alligator Point, some 40 miles south of Tallahassee.

Although the bear was hit with a tranquilizer dart, he managed to bolt into the Gulf of Mexico before the drug took effect. At that point, Adam jumped into the ocean to keep the bear from drowning. He managed to get the bear to shore despite his fear of being stung by a stingray.

Adam said, “I just wanted to try to get in front of him and keep him from swimming out there and drowning. The bear started to swim, started to make the four-mile swim across the harbor.

And so, I looked at a colleague and said I’ve got to go out there and stop him. So, I took off my shirt and shoes, jumped in the water and swam in the direction to head him off and keep him from going into deeper water. Once I did that, I got in front of him, tried to create some splashing and some commotion and tried to get him to go back into shore. But he wasn’t having any of that.

The scariest part was probably when he decided – he started looking at me as if he wanted to climb up on me to keep from drowning and, at one point, he reared up on his hind legs, so I’m looking at a six-and-a-half-foot tall bear. Instead of lunging forward, he fell straight back and was submerged for a couple of seconds and, that’s kinda when I moved in.”

Adam kept one arm underneath the bear and the other gripping the scruff of its neck to keep the bear’s head above water. During the daring rescue, Adam walked barefoot over concrete blocks crusted with barnacles as he pulled the bear back to shore.

The only injuries Adam sustained were a few cuts on his feet from the barnacles and one scratch by the bear.

Once on land a backhoe operator loaded the animal onto a truck and the bear was relocated to Osceola National Forest near Lake City, Florida.

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