When we talk about wild animals like huge grizzly bears or wolves, we automatically presuppose that they know how to take care of themselves. Whatever problems their wildlife existence brings their way, resolving or avoiding these difficulties seems to be their specialty. They seem to be those creatures that just know what to do when overcoming all of those different ordeals that their wild life throws at them every single day. But there are situations when all of those animals actually do need a little helping hand. And no matter where this help comes from: from their own instincts of knowing how to think on their feet, or from human beings stepping in and showing kindness – these stories are always are as heartwarming as it gets.
So in this article we have gathered two such stories. One involves a female bear, her little cubs, and a frozen lake. The other one has to do with a man helping a wolf in the wild.
The Day Started Out With High Hopes
Bears are not usually thought of as being vulnerable animals in need of help. This mama bear, however, found herself and her two cubs in a bit of trouble. She needed help and kindness from a stranger when she came up against some difficulties in the wild. She and her two cubs defied all odds when they attempted to swim across a freezing lake in Russia. Things did not go as planned. But the ended in a very positive way. It is a feel-good story that actually took place one cold day in Russia. There is more to the story that will warm your heart as you read.
Things Did Not Go As Planned
When you wake up in the morning, the thought of how a bear’s morning in the wild is going probably never enters your mind. Today, however, that will change. This is a story you will not want to miss. It is a story about a mother bear and her cubs who teaches us a very important lesson. The story involves sacrifice. The story involves fear and loss. It also stirs up a sense of hope. It is a beautiful picture of a bond that is unspoken among every being in nature. It is the loving bond of family and coming together to save a life, even if the family involves a different species.
A Treacherous Lake Crossing
The story began one cold day in Russia. There is a beautiful freshwater lake called Lake Vygozero. It is located in the northwestern region of the country. The lake is in the Republic of Karelia and is about 480 square miles large. It is part of the Vyg drainage in the White Sea. The water can get rather frigid when temperatures begin to dip into wintery weather conditions. Though, the average annual temperature in the region is 2.6 Celsius, or 36.7 degrees Fahrenheit. The water in this lake can get so incredibly cold that the temperatures have been known to fall to as cold as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. That is -20 degrees Celsius.
A Large Frozen Lake
Seeing as how the lake is so large, and the temperatures are below freezing, the water is far too cold for humans or most forms of wildlife. Getting from one side of the lake to the other seems like an impossible feat without succumbing to the bitter cold environment. So, why would a mother bear think she and her cubs could jump into the water and swim to the other side without consequence? After all, mama bears are known for their instinctual maternal protective care. Whatever her reasoning, she had decided to do just that. She and her cubs began their journey through the cold waters.
A Bad Decision
It is unclear what this mother bear was thinking when she made the decision to attempt to cross the bitter cold lake with cubs in tow. She was about to discover that her babies may not be as tough as she may have hoped. Her choice to step into the lake with her two cubs clinging onto her back was about to be tested. The three set off on their journey across the lake. It didn’t take long before it became crystal clear that she would not be able to keep going while holding the weight of the cubs on her back. Was her strength and will power enough to get the trio across the freezing lake?
Some Mamas Have No Instinct
As the mama bear began to swim across the lake, it was not long before the cubs began to struggle to keep up with her. While mother bears are known to ferociously protect their cubs, even being willing to sacrifice their own lives to save their offspring, this particular mama bear did not seem to have that natural maternal instinct. Or maybe, she literally froze in the moment. The cubs began drifting away as they headed far out into the center of the lake. The pair of cubs were attempting to swim for dear life, struggling with no indication of clear guidance of what to do next.
Mama Bear Abandons Cubs To Save Herself
Whatever her thinking, or lack of problem-solving skills, she had now essentially abandoned her cubs. This behavior is puzzling and disheartening seeing as how female bears especially are thought of as ultra protective parents. She began to swim away leaving them flailing helplessly in the bitterly cold water of the lake. It seemed as though her desire to survive overruled her natural maternal instincts. Regardless, the end result was a dire situation where two baby bear cubs were in serious danger. They needed help to get safely to the shore and out of the cold lake waters their mother had brought them into.
The Strong Current Was Too Much To Conquer
Maybe it wasn’t all lack of parenting skills that made mama bear swim off leaving her cubs in danger. The lake did, after all, have a very strong undercurrent. This powerful undercurrent made the lake an incredibly challenging spot to swim across. Apparently, the mama bear did make an attempt to get her cubs safely across the cold waters, but ultimately the current must have been too strong for her. She spent some time battling the current with the baby cubs in tow clung to her back. But, then she found herself losing the fight. Her cubs were being torn apart from her as she swam to save her own life.
Abandoned And Struggling Cubs In Need Of Help
As the mother bear found herself being pulled away from her cubs, she tried to save herself. Maybe she was hoping that the cubs would somehow make it safely back to her on their own. She swam for some time before she safely made it to shore. When she arrived to the dry banks, however, her cubs were far behind and struggling with all of their might to stay afloat. The two cubs were now abandoned by their mother and struggling to stay alive. They were exhausting themselves and were desperate for help to make it across the freezing lake waters to safety.
The Odds Were Against Them
The odds of the two young bear cubs surviving this journey were not very good. They were very young cubs with very little experience swimming in such bitterly cold water. The two were now left on their own. Terror was most likely tormenting the two bear cubs as they fought against panic as the freezing water continued to rush all around and over them attempting to pull them underneath the strong currents into an ice-cold watery grave. If they were to survive the frigid water temperatures and make it safely to the other side on dry land, they would need some help.
An Unsuspecting Rescue
As the two cubs sat flailing in the water trying to stay adrift, a very unsuspecting rescue was on its way. When everything was at the darkest outlook and the idea of the little cubs surviving was extremely grim, there was hope. A boat suddenly appeared on the horizon. The boat had fishermen aboard. When they noticed the cubs struggling in the water, it was very clear that something was wrong. They saw no mama bear anywhere nearby. The fishermen knew it was up to them to do something to attempt to rescue these small bear cubs. Did they have what it took to save the cubs?
The Rescue Boat Came Closer
As the boat containing rescuers in the form of fisherman, grew closer, it was very clear that the cubs were in dire danger. Time was not on their side. The two bear cubs appeared to be incredibly worn out and thoroughly exhausted. They struggled as they tried to continue treading water and swim to keep their heads above the very cold water. The crew of fishermen knew that it was up to them to save them. They just didn’t know how to go about rescuing the bear cubs, Then, an idea came to them. They were, after all, a fishing boat. Onboard were nets and equipment used to haul in fish. This time, they would be hauling in bears.
They Were Being Watched
As the crew of fishermen went about trying to come up with a solution as to how to use their nets and fishing gear to haul in the baby cubs to safety, they noticed that they were being watched. Though mama bear had abandoned her babies in the cold water, she was seen close by on the shore. She was carefully and intently watching to see if her cubs would indeed be saved. The bear was large and intimidating to the fishermen who questioned whether or not they should attempt the rescue of her cubs. They were afraid she may try to climb aboard the ship to intervene.
Coming Up With A Fast Plan
The crew of fishermen were faced with a dilemma, and they knew they had to make a fast decision to come up with a plan. They knew the struggling cubs needed rescuing. They also knew the mother bear could pose a serious threat to their own safety. Even though they needed to act quickly, they waited just a little while longer until mama bear was farther away on the shore. As they waited, they were coming up with a detailed plan to get the cubs out of the water and to safety. They carefully considered every angle as to how to handle the dangerous situation.
Capture The Rescue On Video
The fishermen knew whatever they did had to be done with extreme caution. Anything could turn deadly at any turn for either them or the cubs. The bears they were attempting to rescue were just babies, but they were still wild bears. They also knew that fishermen are known for coming up with whopping tales about their catches, so they wanted to document the entire adventure on video. Otherwise, they feared no one would believe their story. Capturing it on video turned out to be a very good idea. They recorded the entire process of rescuing the bear cubs including the moment one of the bear cubs reached out his paw and tried to climb aboard.
Lending A Helpful Hand
As the little cub tried to climb aboard, the ledge of the ship was too high to reach. The cub kept trying but could not manage to lift himself onto the boat. The cubs had become weak from their swimming struggle and from the cold temperatures of the water. They had been treading water in the bitter cold for awhile. Thankfully, the fishermen offered a helping hand. They began to move forward in their rescue plans. They used fishing gear as a tool and offered it to the bear to get a good grip enough to hang onto as he climbed aboard.
Fishing For A Bear Cub Or Two
As the fishermen used their fishing gear to help the cub climb onto the vessel, their efforts were proving to be successful. They used more than just the fishing gear to help, though. They also used their knowledge about animals. It turns out that these fishermen knew a little about animals other than just fish. They knew that bears, however, have incredibly sharp teeth. Their mouths have extremely powerful gripping abilities. The fishermen chose to allow the bear cub to use his mouth for leverage in an effort to pull himself up onto the boat.
Did Their Plan Save The Bears?
When the plan was underway, the bear was attempting to climb onboard. Everything seemed as though the plan would work flawlessly. But, the bear was still too far away from the boat landing to be able to hoist his entire body up to safety. They had managed to make it this close to rescuing the bear. If they left him there, they knew he would fall back into the water. They also knew there were risks involved that could endanger their own lives. At this point, the fishermen threw all regard for their safety out in an effort to save the bear cubs. They immediately joined together to pull the bear up.
A Quick Decision Regarding Life Or Death
As they reached out to save the bear cub, they knew there were extreme risks involved. If they reached too far over the edge, they could be pulled into the frigid water by the bear.. Worse yet, the bear could attack them leaving them maimed or dead. The only thing left to do was to decide whether or not to trust the cubs. Would they work with them in the rescue efforts? Would they work together as human and bear to save the lives of everyone involved? The fisherman strongly hoped that no one would be harmed in their efforts.
An Unspoken Connection Between Human And Bear
As the bear cub looked up at the fishermen from the cold waters, that only a boat separated the two from, it was as if there was an unspoken connection. Could this be? A boat full of humans who would normally fear for their lives in the presence of a bear and a baby bear cub met face to face. The two species locked eyes gazing into each other’s souls for just a moment. It was a strong connection between a very vulnerable bear cub life and the lives of the fishermen onboard. The crew knew they had to take any risk that may be present. They needed to reach down and do everything they could to save this cub.
It Was Time For Another Brilliant Idea
As the bear cub and the fishermen struggled to get the baby bear to safety, they knew it was time to put another plan into action. Looking back, the idea seems so simple. But, at the time, in the heat of danger, the idea came to them like a stroke of genius. They decided to begin using their fishing nets to try to scoop up the bear. The idea was to scoop underneath the bear and lift him out of the cold water. They had done this countless times with fish, but would it work with this stranded bear cub?
Would Their Plan Work?
The crew of fishermen had scooped up countless numbers of fish during their career at sea, but would the same concept work with a bear? The biggest worry was that the fishing net was made to handle fish flopping around and was not designed to handle the weight of a baby bear. In spite of the risk that it could fail to lift the bear’s weight, the fishermen proceeded with their plan and sprung into action. They were willing to risk breaking their fishing gear if it would give the young bear a fighting chance at survival. But, would it work?
Going Fishing For A Bear
The fishermen had to find out if their idea would work. They had no other choice. They tossed the net into the lake and began trying to save the life of the first cub. They tried to catch it and reel it in like they would reel in a fish with their own hands. They rushed against the clock as the bear cub was getting more and more exhausted. They managed to capture the first cub inside the net and brought it closer to the boat. As they began to drag the net with bear in tow, the fishermen watched carefully so as to make sure the bear didn’t become frightened and endanger himself or the awaiting crew.
Everybody Just Calm Down
Even though the plans of the fishermen were working like clockwork, they still knew that this was a wild animal that they were dealing with. They did not know what the cub would do or how frightened it was. Even if the bear was not mean spirited, it would only be natural for the cub to strike out or even accidentally harm one of the humans in its path. They had no other choice but to try to calm the cub down enough so they could bring it aboard with no danger of it acting out in aggression or fear. The only thing that was clear to them was that they had to continue their efforts to save the bear.
Heavier Than It Looked
Even though the little bear was still a baby, the cub was heavier than it appeared. The fishermen realized very quickly that this bear had a lot of weight to it, and it was going to take a lot of pulling strength to reel it in to safety. They were very grateful that the bear cub was still young and that it was the cubs who were stranded and not the weightier mother bear. At their full-grown weight, bears can weigh more than 1,300 pounds. If this bear would have been any older, the efforts of the fishermen may have been to no avail. Even so, a baby bear cub is heavier in the water since its fur is dripping wet.
If two bear cubs were going to get stranded to the point of needing help in cold waters off a Russian lake, it is a good thing that it was a boat full of strong fishermen who found them. The men were already accustomed to hauling in heavy nets full of fish and steering through and maneuvering rough conditions at sea. They were also used to the extreme cold temperatures and had come equipped. Pulling in a fish net full of flopping fish is a struggle, but they were soon to find out that it pales in comparison to hauling in a heavy bear.
Pulled To Safety
After a great deal of time heaving and pulling, the cub finally was close enough to the boat to climb onboard. All those aboard ship were thrilled and hopeful that their efforts were going to pay off. They had successfully managed to pull the first bear cub to safety. However, they still had the other cub to rescue. The second cub was waiting in the extreme cold lake treading water the entire time they were rescuing the first cub. Additionally, the second cub was farther away from the boat, and now they had a scared, wet cub onboard to contend with while they began efforts to get the other cub to safety.
Now Let’s Do It Again
The fishermen did have one thing to their credit. Now that they had successfully got one bear cub onboard without any mishaps, they had confidence that they could do it for the second cub as well. Though, they were now a bit tired from all of the pulling and effort put into the first rescue. Could they do the same for the second bear cub? It would require a lot of perseverance, strength, and energy that was waning. They did have adrenaline pumping in their favor. They also knew their idea of using the fishing gear worked once, so it could work a second time too.
Sibling Bear Cubs Reunited
After much effort, the fishermen managed to muster the strength they needed to keep pulling the second bear onto the boat. They were exhausted and running out of energy. But, they knew they could not stop if they were to rescue both of the bear cubs. The fishermen knew that they were these bears’ only hope of survival. They refused to give up and leave the second bear stranded. They kept trying and trying, putting all of their body’s strength into each pull and tug to get the bear cub onboard. Finally, the second cub had made it onboard as well and was reunited with his sibling cub.
What Do We Do Now?
Relieved, the fishermen took a collective sigh of relief. They knew their efforts were worth it and had paid off. The two bear cubs had made it safely onto the boat. Celebratory cheers erupted as the fishermen gave each other high fives and shouts of excitement. However, they knew they didn’t have much time to revel in celebration. As relieved and pleased as they were, they knew they were not finished yet. The question was, what would they do now? They could not keep the bears on the ship as they went about their fishing business. They knew they ultimately needed to get the cubs back to their mother. But, how?
Not Everyone Was Happy
While the fishermen took a few minutes to congratulate each other, their celebration wouldn’t last long. While the two cubs were safe from the danger of drowning, they were worn out, wet, and very cold. They also appeared to be extremely confused about their new environment aboard the fishing vessel. The two cubs began shaking. Were they shaking because they were freezing cold or because they were afraid? Probably a bit of both was at play, not to mention they had no idea where their mother had run off to leaving them all alone. They cowered in a corner of the boat.
Surrogate Bear Mother
The fishermen immediately felt a close bond to the small cubs. Man and bear had met together to in a successful effort to help at the bear cubs’ greatest hour of need. No doubt, the thought would arise of the possibility of holding on tight to the bear cubs and making them a pet. While the fishermen had the ultimate plan of rescuing the bear cubs, they also knew that the best thing they could do for the small bears would be to get them safely back reunited with their mother. But, how could that happen? They were now in the middle of a bitterly cold lake and did not want to see the cubs left in danger again.
What Do We Do Now?
Now that the two bear cubs were saved from the water, there was one question that remained. Where should the fishermen take them now? The rescue team of fishermen knew that they would need to find the mother bear. The last they had spotted her, she was near the water on shore and it was their concern that she would attack if they got too close. Now, the story had shifted to a point that they needed to find her whereabouts and reunite her with her cubs. They had seen her take refuge on land, and the boat full of fishermen searched the shoreline. It took awhile, but they finally found the spot where she had last been seen, and the boat made its way to that shore.
More Danger To Come
Now that the fishermen were fairly certain they were headed to the correct spot on land, they knew their next step would be quite risky. They were headed straight to a wild animal who was the mother of two stranded cubs which they had in their possession. They knew they had to get the cubs back to their mother. They also knew it could end in one of two ways. Things could become quite dangerous in a hurry, or it could be a sweet, peaceful and loving reunion. They hoped for the latter but had no idea what to expect as they got closer to the area where they had last seen the mother bear.
As the fishermen drew closer to reuniting the cubs with their mother, they braced themselves for what they may be encountering next. By the time the boat arrived to shore, they wondered where the mother bear was. They knew that she may be close by and perhaps watching from a hiding place to determine whether or not the men were a threat. The fishermen knew that the next step was going to be letting the cubs off of the boat. They hoped the bears would walk safely onto land and eventually find their mother by following her scent. The men carried the weak cubs onto the land.
Where Is Mama Bear?
Once they managed to get the cubs off of the boat and safely onto the land, they had braced themselves for an attack from mama bear. But, she didn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. Had she truly abandoned the bear cubs? The fishermen were not sure what to expect or what to do next. It appeared as though mama bear had no interest in greeting her lost cubs. Now they were afraid that the little bear cubs would not make it on their own in the harshness of the cold weather without a mother to look after them. After all of their strenuous rescue efforts, had they worked in vain?
Movement On The Other Bank
As they watched the two small bear cubs wander safely off of the boat and onto land, they worried that mama bear had truly abandoned them. Now, they feared their efforts were to no avail. They did not want to leave the cubs to die on their own, but they had no choice to let them wander off, wait, and hope. Suddenly, there was some movement from the other bank. It was mama bear. She had spotted her babies. They were safe, and she wanted to join them to be united as a family once again. She jumped into the water to swim toward her two cubs.
Mother Bear Swims Closer
As mother bear approached, she began swimming faster and faster. The fishermen became a bit nervous wondering why she was unable to swim with such swiftness and strength when her cubs were clinging to her back. Maybe the weight of the two cubs made it difficult for her to keep up. Now that she was on her own swimming, she seemed very capable of crossing the lake quickly. While the fishermen were thrilled that the mom was coming for her cubs, they were also becoming more frightened unsure of their safety and questioned what she may do to them as she grew closer.
A Mother And Child Reunion At Last
As the fishermen watched he mother bear swim rapidly toward her cubs for a mother and child reunion, they feared that they may be in the path of danger as she drew closer. They decided to leave the cubs and head back to the boat. There they would hope for the best from the safety of their vessel knowing that they had done everything they knew to do to save her cubs. They climbed aboard and waited until the mama bear was almost to the shore before they started the engine. As they sailed away, they kept a watchful eye on the three bears to see what would happen.
A Job Well Done
The fishermen watched as they sailed safely away knowing they had done all they could. They saw the mother bear reach the shore and head for her cubs. For the fishermen, it was a sad goodbye. In the fast effort to save the bear cubs, they had formed an emotional bond with the small bears. They found themselves not wanting to leave, but they knew they needed to get out of the way so mama bear could be reunited with her cubs out of danger. Something told them that this time the mama was not about to leave her cubs for a second time.
Another Tale Of Man And Nature
To Add to the heroic adventures of what man can do to lend a helping hand with nature, there is another story. This story is about a man and a wolf. It involves a very dangerous situation in the woods. The man had set a trap on his private property that was located in the state of Wisconsin in America. The trap was to catch coyote. He had no intention of stopping anything or any animal in its tracks besides a dangerous coyote. However, he had no idea that he would soon be putting an innocent visitor in serious danger instead.
A Visitor Caught In A Trap
Little did the man think that anything other than a coyote would be caught in the trap that he had set. But, that is just what happened. Before a coyote would wander onto his property to get caught in the trap, an innocent visitor would first find the trap. It was a timber wolf that would find itself stuck and in pain at the hand of the trap intended to stop the coyote. It is difficult to imagine what was probably going through the mind of the man when he discovered he had actually entrapped an innocent visitor of a timber wolf.
The Timber Wolf Fell Prey
The man’s name was John Oens. He discovered that the trap he had set to capture a coyote had actually caught a wolf. He began to document all of the happenings that would transpire from that point on in video that he uploaded to YouTube in 2015. Apparently, when the video begins, viewers question whether or not he had actually intended on catching the wolf. As the video first comes on, he announces that this is his first timber wolf of the year making it sound as though he was out to capture wolves. Then, as the video continues, he explains that the trap was meant for coyote.
Traps and Wolves
The trap that was set works by compressing the paw so that the animal becomes struck and cannot run away. Even a very strong animal becomes helpless when it finds itself caught in the trap. This wolf was no exception. Coyotes can be a threat especially to small dogs or chickens that may be on the property. Timber wolves, on the other hand, do not typically pose a threat to human safety. There are about 60,000 living in America. Most wolves fear humans and avoid any encounter with them. This one would find itself not only face to face with a human but needing the man’s assistance to be set free.
How To Set The Wolf Free
Trapping the wolf by accident was not the hard part of the entire situation. The hard part was trying to figure out how to set the wolf free without the human becoming harmed. The wolf was not able to move freely away from the trap that had clamped down hard on its paw. One look at the wolf, and its teeth were rather intimidating. So, how could John set the wolf free without posing a dangerous threat to himself? He came up with a brilliant idea that perhaps left viewers of his documented video wondering how many times he may have done this in the past.
A Threatening Dilemma
Now John was left trying to figure out how he could set the wolf free without it turning to attack him. One interesting yet strange thing about wolves is that even though they may appear to be perfectly calm and non-threatening, they can actually be feeling an entirely different emotion. One way to tell if they are fearful or at ease is to listen to their breathing patterns. When a wolf is happy, they actually make a chirping sound. They rarely bark like domesticated dogs do but instead have more of a guttural huff that conveys fear or a threat.
Understanding Timber Wolves
Before you can help an animal, it is important to understand some basic traits or characteristics about them and their behaviors. Timber wolves are also known as a common wolf or a gray wolf. It is the largest member of this specific wolf family. Bottom line is that they are huge. The wolf family that they belong to also includes a few domestic dogs along with jackals, foxes, and a few other types of wolves. They are actually a very old breed from Eurasia and migrated to the United States many thousands of years ago. Some have reached more than 5 feet in height as a full-grown adult wolf.
Cold Temperatures Don’t Scare Them
The timber wolf fits right in up north in Wisconsin during the winter. They have very thick coats that serve to protect them from the cold. The hair is made up of thick fur. Much like dogs, the color of the wolf’s fur can vary to a wide array of colors. The fur is woolly at its base with long guard hairs that protects them against moisture. They are also kept warm and protected from arctic winds and winters as cold as negative 20 degrees F. Even their paws are designed to protect the toes from frost bite with additional fur between each toe.
Timber Wolf Paws Are Built For Winter
Their paws are also made to withstand very extreme cold temperatures that the northern climate would throw their way. They actually have fur between their toes on their paws which helps to insulate them against frigid temperatures of winter. Their paws are known for their large size. They also have extremely sharp claws which could have posed a huge danger to John as he tried to free this timber wolf from the trap. The design of their large, furry, sharp paws also help them to run incredibly fast regardless of whether it is a very cold or even a wet environment. They can get traction for speeds up to 45 miles per hour.
Additional Timber Wolf Traits
Timber wolf males tend to be as much as 20 percent bigger and heavier compared to females. The voice in the video when this wolf was captured states how big the wolf is. Despite the name of gray wolf, the timber wolf’s coat can actually range in color from white to brown to black to gray, or a mixture. The wolf has a double coat of fur, long guard hairs on top and a layer of soft insulating underfur. When compared to a coyote, which John was attempting to catch, the wolf has somewhat rounded ears. Coyotes have taller, pointed ears. Wolves have a broader, shorter snout, while coyotes have a narrow more pointed nose, not that anyone wants to get close enough to decipher between the two. A wolf’s howl is long and drawn out, while a coyote produces a shorter, yapping sound.
Trapped Despite Its Survival Attributes
In spite of all of its characteristics this timber wolf had in its favor to survive the bitter cold winters of the northern Midwestern United States, this wolf found itself trapped. It didn’t matter that his paw was designed to protect him from the cold temperatures. It didn’t matter that he was large in his breed. It didn’t matter that this wolf was able to fend for itself quite nicely in nature. The fact remained that this timber wolf was caught in a trap and could not get free on his own accord. To be free from the trap would require the help of a human named John, the very human who set the trap in the first place.
A Human Named John
John Oens was not there when the wolf became entrapped. However, John was, in fact, the only reason that the wolf had become entrapped. The situation seemed very devastating. To some, it may have seemed to be outright mean to attempt to trap an animal of any kind. John claims to have never intended on trapping a timber wolf. But, now he would find himself in a situation where he had a choice of how to act. He felt that the only humane thing to do would be to set the wolf free. But, how could he do that safely?
The Trap Was Intended For Safety
John claimed that he originally set the trap for safety purposes. Coyotes had been visiting his property, and he wanted to stop them in their tracks. Coyotes are known to hunt alone or in pairs. They differ from dogs in many ways. One detail is that coyotes run with their tails down, while a dog will run with their tails up. Coyotes are very vocal and they have very few natural predators. They are very good swimmers, live up to 20 years in captivity, and they will eat just about anything, including small dogs, chickens, or other small animals including being a threat to human toddlers.
A Plan To Set The Wolf Free
John may have intended on capturing a coyote for safety purposes, but instead he trapped a timber wolf. Now, the only humane thing to do was to devise a plan to figure out how to set the animal free. The problem was two-fold. Potentially, the wolf could become frightened and injure itself in an attempt to get away. Or, it could turn on John. This was the first time John had found a wolf sitting stuck in his trap. He simply wanted to make things right. But, how could he free the wolf without being attacked or causing more harm to the animal in a potential struggle to free itself from the trap?
Once In A Lifetime Situation
Since it was never John’s intent to trap an innocent and harmless timber wolf, he knew this would probably be a once in a lifetime scenario. He knew he had to come up with a plan to safely free the animal, but he also knew he wanted to document the entire event. He can be heard at the beginning of the video explaining that the trap was set to capture a coyote. He even gives the specifications of what type of trap that was set. It sounds as though he refers to the trap as a Number 3 Dogless Bridger Fully Modified Set For Coyote.
Uncertainty In The Video
He grabbed a video camera to document every step of the situation. His quick thinking to capture it all on video is how this story can continue to be retold. His surprise to find a wolf in his trap is also probably why he sounds unsure when the video begins by saying, “This is my first timber wolf of 2015.” He did go on to explain that the animal was big and beautiful and he was going to figure out how to free him. He realized from the start that keeping the timber wolf entrapped was not at all his intention. He just wasn’t sure how to go about setting the wolf on his way.
Call For Help
Before he set the wolf free, he apparently called someone else to come help. One is overheard in the video questioning whether the animal was actually a wolf. Though, he did have a bit of sarcasm in his voice exclaiming that it was not really a wolf but instead just a very large coyote. Through it all, John stood his ground that it was in fact a timber wolf who needed to be set free. So, the humans set out to devise a plan to set the timber wolf on his way safely without harming any of them or the wolf itself.
The Human Seemed To Know Exactly What To Do
John kept dredging forward with a plan to set the animal free. He seems to have thought fast on his feet if this was really his first timber wolf he ever caught in a trap that he had set for a coyote. He looked as though he knew exactly what to do. He took a large piece of plywood that was a big rectangular shape. He placed it in front of him between the wolf and his own body to use as a shield as he slowly got closer to the timber wolf. He had cleverly cut a notch in the bottom of the rectangle in the wood that he intended on putting over the trapped paw of the wolf while shielding himself.
Who Was More Scared?
The entire situation was probably just as scary for the wolf as it was for John. Perhaps they were both equally scared. Though, John seemed fairly cool and collected. His friends did not seem too alarmed. But, then again, they were armed by at least one rifle and were not the ones who were going to go face to face with the wolf to set it free. John was using the plywood to form a barrier between him and the wolf as he would slowly approach the wolf to keep the wolf on one side of the wood while, he carefully placed the cut-out wood notch over the wolf’s entrapped paw.
Protected Behind A Barrier
After a bit of back and forth effort with the wolf chomping his jaws against the plywood, the wolf seemed to become a bit more calm. John Oens had protected himself behind the barrier of the plywood. The wolf first opened its mouth wide to attempt to bite into the wood and resist any attempted harm. It didn’t take long before the wolf settled down and stopped attempting to bite. The plywood served as an effective shield from any potential attack that may arise. He had filmed the entire rescue mission with a GoPro that was attached to a helmet so viewers could watch from his vantage point as well.
Releasing The Trap
Once the plywood was set in place with the cut-out notch around the wolf’s paw, it was time for John to begin releasing the trap. The trap actually opened very easily without much effort. John held the plywood sheet in place while opening up the trap to release the wolf’s trapped paw. No tool was needed, and there was no secret trick to setting the wolf free from the trap. John only needed to use his hands to unhook the lever. Once the lever was unhooked, the trap released. His friends stood guarding him with rifles aimed and loaded in case the wolf took a turn and headed to attack Oens.
The Wolf Was Free
Once the trap was released, the wolf took off running. Though John’s friends were ready to protect John if need be, they did not have to even cock their rifle barrel. As fast as the trap was released, that timber wolf took off running quickly away into the woods. As all can see on video, the way the wolf took off running, it does not appear that his paw was even harmed in any way. He ran freely without a limp. There didn’t even seem to be any dripping blood or any other signs of injury as the wolf quickly ran back into the woods to freedom.
An Internet Sensation
Once John Oens uploaded his documented video of the adventure, he became an instant internet hit. His video clip was seen by more than 3 million viewers on his YouTube channel. He impressed many people by his quick thinking and skill to barricade himself with a simple piece of plywood. Viewers were also touched by his desire to set the wolf free. He used his human skill and ingenuity to devise a way to safely release the trap and allow the wolf to go back to where he came free to continue living without fear of being hunted in the state.
An Endangered Species
While it was once legal to shoot and hunt wolves, in 2014 wolves in Wisconsin were actually classified as legally endangered. This not only meant that they could not legally be hunted but that their population was protected by state law. Under the law, Wisconsin once implemented a wolf season when wolves were not listed as either a federal or state endangered species. Today, all wolves are listed as a federally endangered species. This precludes a wolf season. As of December 2014, a federal judge ruled for them to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Wisconsin was included in these states.
It Took A Good Human Heart
John not only followed the Wisconsin laws by setting the animal free, but he also followed a good moral compass. Even though the wolf had found itself captured and stuck on John’s property, when the wolf was discovered to be in need of help, John did the right thing. He chose not to allow it to remain captured, even though it was by accident, and he also chose not to simply shoot it and call it a day. Some may have even shot the animal and then bragged about what they had done. Not John. He had a different motive. This act of humanity allowed the wolf to be released back into the wild.
Misunderstood Fear Of Wolves
Some people misunderstand wolves and become afraid of them. These people tend to push for legislation to change the hunting laws to allow for wolf hunting. Almost 60 years after the gray wolf was considered to be extinct in Wisconsin, the population had rebounded drastically to more than 900. That is thanks to the legal protections under the Federal Endangered Species Act which made it illegal to hunt or harm any species listed. The timber wolf is part of the gray wolf family. It inhabits large areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Under this description, timber wolves were part of the endangered gray wolves at the time.
Back up a bit to a few years before the wolf became entrapped on John Oens’ property in Wisconsin. In 2012, just a couple years prior to a non-hunting law being passed, that prohibited wolf hunting, it was perfectly legal and acceptable to freely hunt wolves in the state. These free hunting laws led to the death of about 530 wolves in the area. These killings from the legal hunting drastically lowered the amount of wolves left up north. It actually lowered their population levels to an endangered level. Maybe John knew about the new laws prohibiting hunting when he found the trapped wolf on his property. But, maybe he was simply acting humanely.
Keep The Wolf Population Thriving
New laws have come about in Wisconsin regarding wolf hunting and even fishing. Since this time, there have been an increase in the number of wolves in the state. There are now close to 1,000 wolves estimated to live in this northern Midwestern region of the United States. This is good news for the wolf population! With his courageous efforts and quick thinking skills, John Oens helped to keep the declining wolf population thriving. John not only set free one wolf, he helped to contribute to repopulating the entire wolf community throughout the state. That is a very kind gesture and a very good thing.
It Pays To Be Kind
This story could have had a much sadder ending. At any moment the wolf could have become aggressive and attacked John. Likewise, John and his friends all had guns. They could have ended it before it began by taking the animal out with a bullet. John’s friends were standing by giving him a bit of trouble. Though, it seemed to all be in good fun, they may have been tempted to deal with the situation in a more tragic manner. Who knows what could have happened. But, instead, John chose to be kind and compassionate. This type of story offers hope to all humankind.
Wolf Set Free
Finally, this timber wolf’s story had a happy ending. The wolf was successfully set free to run off to safety. Human ingenuity and an animal’s need for help met, and both came out the winner. This is another setting where kindness and compassion of a human’s quick-thinking plan stood up to the face of danger. Human and nature met face to face, and what could have been a terribly devastating outcome for either the animal, the human, or both, each story had a very happy ending that gave hope of a future to the animals involved. These types of stories make a person feel happy to be human and humane.