Florida is the state where anything seems capable of happening due to a dense population of humans and wild animals. You’ve probably heard about all of the alligators and crocodiles that flood the Florida panhandle, but have you read much about their burgeoning black bear population? Humans and black bears now routinely run into each other in certain parts of Florida and the outcome isn’t always what you’d expect. One giant black bear was on the verge of drowning when a human hero showed up and defied all reason and logic in order to save the day. Keep on reading, this story will leave you speechless!
33. The Florida Black Bear
Before we dive into our incredible rescue story we need to first teach you some basics about the black bear in question. The Florida black bear ranges throughout Florida as well as the southern portions of Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. Instead of staying in their forested areas black bears have become more and more visible due to habitat destruction. This has caused many incidents where humans and black bears end up scaring or harming one another.
32. Massive and Imposing
While black bears are not the largest bears in the world, they are big enough to intimidate even the bravest individual. Florida black bears range in weight from 300 to 500 pounds when they are fully grown and they stand at roughly six feet tall when on their hind legs. These are large and scary creatures!
31. Growing Population
According to recent studies conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) there are an estimated 4,000 black bears throughout the state of Florida. As their habitats continue to get destroyed this number will start to become more and more problematic for all parties involved, including the animals. This growing problem is where our story begins.
30. Troublesome Neighbors
When you go camping in the woods you are taught not to leave your trash out. In Alligator Point, Florida residents are quickly learning that they must also lock up their garbage at night. Here we see what a hungry black bear will do when it smells your trash.
29. Simple Diet
Black bears prefer to eat some combination of meat, fish, insects and plants. However, when hungry enough these bears will root around for anything that tastes good. You can already see how this would be a problem, right? Imagine taking a walk outside when you see this large creature in your driveway!
28. Sound the Alarm
Black bears are skittish creatures and they will usually opt to avoid contact with humans. Still, if you see a black bear in your neighborhood then you had better put in a phone call to animal control. This is exactly what happened in our story and right where things began to go wrong.
27. Not so Tranquilized
Wildlife authorities were quickly sent to the scene to try and get everything under control. The last thing you want is for a 400 pound black bear to be wandering a little neighborhood while it is hungry. The authorities on hand decided to tranquilize the black bear as it represented the safest way to corral the animal.
26. Finding the Fatigue
Animal control professionals are trained to properly tranquilize their subjects. Typically a black bear will end up harmlessly following asleep after being hit with a dart. However, this is not what happened.
25. Out to Sea
Instead of slowing down and passing out on land the bear made a run for the ocean. The poor animal was probably afraid and looking for an escape route. At this point, however, things began to get crazy. The bear started to become sluggish and everyone realized the problem on hand: the bear could drown.
24. In the Gulf
Here we see where Alligator Point is in conjunction with the Gulf of Mexico. The black bear was in big trouble unless something happened quick.
23. Drowning in Slow Motion
At their worst, bears are still competent swimmers. However, a big black bear can’t even keep its head above water when the effects of the tranquilizer begin to flow through its body. A 400lb black bear would drown quickly once it began to go under. Thankfully a hero would arrive.
22. Adam Arrives
As part of the Wildlife Commission Team that had been sent to handle the bear, Adam knew that he had an obligation to try and help. Of course, nobody would have faulted Adam for refusing to go into the water. Still, Adam knew that the animal needed a hero. So, Adam threw off his shirt and waded into the water after the animal.
21. A Serious Threat
Untrained civilians are told not to try and rescue people who may be drowning due to the fact that the drowning individual can flail and bring them both under the water. Apply that logic to a grown man chasing after a 400lb wild animal. This wasn’t the safest decision that Adam ever made.
20. Back to Land
Adam shrugged off his fears and bravely grabbed onto the animal. He began to steer the animal back to land, using his own powerful legs to keep them swimming against the current.
19. A Wild Day
Can you imagine what the bear is thinking here? At one moment it was foraging for food and the next sees it drowning in the ocean, being carried by a human being.
18. He Awakens
During their swim back to shore the black bear actually begins to wake up. Instantly this already dangerous situation goes to the next level of terrifying. A groggy, scared, black bear could spell death for both parties.
17. Catching a Ride
A nearby boat cruises over to see if they can be of help to Adam. Unfortunately this boat would only serve as a tease for our bear and his savior.
16. Too Large to Lift
Exhausted from hauling the bear this far, Adam fails to get the creature into the boat. Remember, this black bear is 400lbs of soaking wet fur and fat. The boat is a no-go. Adam and his furry friend are going to have to swim to shore.
15. Reaching the Shallows
After what seems like an eternity Adam is able to guide the black bear to shallow water. The bear can keep its head above water but it is too weak to move, much less swim the rest of the way back. Adam stays close to the animal, ready to help.
14. 25 Yards
At this point in time Adam is probably as tired, if not more so, than the black bear. He had just hauled a 400lb creature a quarter of the length of a football field — against the current.
13. Helping Hands
Do you think Adam was relieved when another official showed up in order to help? It was time to get this bear all the way back to land so everyone could catch a break.
12. Not so Simple
Despite having another pair of hands the bear provides to be too difficult to wrestle back to shore. Adam calls in some back up and they maneuver a tractor into position. The saga is almost over, the bear is almost safe – right?
11. Hitching a Ride
Eventually, the black bear is set into a pickup truck. You can see that the creature is still groggy and weak. the trip back to Osceola National Forest can’t happen fast enough!
10. Saying Goodbye
Adam gives his new furry friend one last look. They both seem exhausted by this point in time. If Adam Warwick hadn’t shown up then that bear might be dead in the water right now.
9. Back Home
Our black bear makes it back to its home once more and seems none the worse for wear. Honestly, the black bear probably doesn’t remember much of the ordeal at all. Still, Adam won’t ever forget it and we won’t let his story go untold. All heroes deserve being remembered.
8. Happy & Safe
Despite hauling a fully grown black bear to shore Adam incurs no major injuries. In fact, outside of a few scrapes and bruises, there is no sign that Adam even touched the bear — outside of this incredible series of pictures. The black bear is happy and healthy as well – uninjured.
7. Conservation Success Story
During the ’70s there were reportedly only a couple of hundred black bears left in the state of Florida. However, Florida’s government has been proactive in protecting and rehabilitating their community of black bears.
6. Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act
In 2015 Florida Senator Darren Soto made the news when he filed the Black Bear Habitat Restoration Act. The focus of this act was to assist with Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in protecting and expanding safe places to live for their bear population.
5. Local Hero
Though interactions between bears and humans are on the rise in Florida, there are precious few stories as satisfying as Adam Warwick’s heroic quest to save a drowning bear. As a result Warwick’s story has been shared countless times, catapulting the man into becoming a local hero.
4. Precaution is King
Despite this feel good story, it is still important for individuals to practice precaution when dealing with wild black bears. Black bears are dangerous creatures that can physically maim and kill humans when they feel threatened or hungry. There are simple rules to follow to limit these negative outcomes.
3. Keep Your Trash Safe
The best way to limit interaction with black bears is by properly securing your trash at night. There is even a new line of trash can that is being advertised as bear resistant.
2. Limit Human Contact
Black bears are naturally cautious creatures and they are scared of humans. However, if bears continue to interact with humans at regular intervals then that natural fear may vanish. Do not feed bears or engage them. Call the local wildlife commission and let them take care of the animal.
1. Know Your Home
Black bears are immensely adaptable creatures that can be found throughout the vast majority of North America. If you live in rural areas or near large forest preserves then make sure you know what’s out there. The colored in portion of this map showcases where wild black bears are known to roam.
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