Thursday, June 09, 2016

Stowaway bear cub caught playing on side of freighter ship

A bear cub decided to stowaway on the side of a freighter ship on Lake Superior for a while on Friday. Keith Baker was walking back to his room on the Cason J. Callaway after eating lunch when the watchman told him to look over the side of the freighter, docked in Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets at the time.

That’s when he spotted the bear cub attempting to climb up the Callaway’s draft board, which was hanging in the water on the side of the ship, said Baker of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The watchman told Baker that the cub swam over to the Callaway from a vacant ore dock. “He grabbed on and wasn’t letting go,” Baker said The cub eventually let go of the draft board and swam back to shore as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources arrived on the scene, said Baker.

A report of a bear playing on an ore ship was a first for conservation officer David Schottenbauer. “I think it was just out scouting around and looking at stuff and being curious and found itself hanging off an ore ship,” Schottenbauer said. “It was a bear cub being a bear cub.” The ore docks in Two Harbor’s Agate Bay served as a playground for the cub for about an hour at around 11:30am before it ran off along the shore of Lake Superior, said Schottenbauer, who works out of the Silver Bay Department of Natural Resources station.

He explained that the cub was skittish toward humans and wasn’t a public safety threat, so he let it find its way out of the area on its own. The workers were shooing the cub off the ore dock and told Schottenbauer that they’ve had bears in the area before. The bear was a small cub, weighing an estimated 30 pounds and probably born this past winter. Its mother wasn’t visible, but may have been nearby, he said. The cub appeared healthy as it was running around. “There was nothing that told me the bear wasn’t normal other than the fact that it was goofing around down there at the dock - more of a curiosity thing than anything,” he said.

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