National Geographic : 1960 Aug
o NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY Naturalists Peering Into a Trap Find a Drugged Grizzly Still on Her Feet One of the world's most powerful predators, the grizzly fought men on favorable terms until the advent of the modern repeating rifle in the 1850's. Todayscientists try to save him from extinction. Using a trap made from a steel culvert, the Craighead party baited it with bacon, honey, and pineapple juice. Firing a gas-operated rifle, Maurice Hornocker (left) has just shot a drug-loaded syringe into a trapped bear. Looking through peepholes, he and Wesley Woodgerd meet the gaze of the ruffled sow (opposite). to swim, or even hold up his head. These char acteristic effects of succinylcholine chloride, a powerful muscle relaxant, make it ideal for immobilizing grizzlies. But now it had created a potentially dangerous dilemma. We reacted as a team. John and Maurice waved their lights and yelled to scare off the mother. She disappeared into the darkness but how far would she go? Bear Saved in a Risky Rescue While John's light stabbed the darkness, Maurice's beam played over the rough ground infrontofmeasIraceddowntothecub.I caught the glint of a high-powered rifle barrel swinging in unison with John's light. I hoped he would not need to use it. Plunging waist-deep into the cold water, I caught the cub by the scruff of the neck, with the other hand grabbed hide and hair and rump. In a continuing motion I pivoted, swinging him up and around. He was not yet completely immobilized, 278 and, as I climbed the embankment, I had to hold 50 quivering pounds of bear at arm's length to avoid his claws. Convulsively, he let out a bawl, a cross between the bellow of a range cow and the baa of a frightened sheep. The mother bear might be anywhere in the darkness around us. Knowing she could cover ground as fast as a horse, I redoubled my ef forts to reach the partial safety of our vehicle. At the rear of our panel truck other hands took over, pushing the cub into a cage and slamming the door shut. The engine roared to life and the truck lurched forward. The swinging headlights reflected two burning coals-the amber eyes of the big sow bear moving fast, but too late. The hunt was a success. We had literally snatched a cub from a mother grizzly. Tomor row we would mark him with colored plastic streamers and numbered eartags. We would return him to his mother, and he would join a growing number of marked bears. He would become a recognizable individual of known age in the grizzly bear population, one we might later frequently identify and observe.