Black bear calls drain tunnel home - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Black bear calls drain tunnel home

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VESPER (WAOW) --  It is not every day people come within feet of a black bear.  But that was the case in Wood County.

"They said they were just driving along and could see his eyes shining in the dark," Dillon Weiler said.

Inside a drain tunnel lies a 300 pound hibernating black bear.

"It is really cool. I have never seen one hibernating before, only walking around," Weiler said. 

Neighbors noticed the animal as they were driving down the road in the town of Vesper in Wood County. They stopped to take a look.

"As soon as I heard about it I wanted to come down and take a look," Weiler told us.

So did we. From a safe distance, our camera zoomed in close enough to catch the bear in action.  But, much to our surprise his eyes were open.

"Bears don't totally fall asleep while hibernating they are very light sleepers," DNR Wildlife Biologist Courtney Schaefer said.

That wasn't so comforting to hear. But, DNR officials said we weren't in any danger.

"Typically bears are scared of humans and will turn around and run the other way," Schaefer said.

DNR officials say black bears hibernate four months out of the year. They say man-made objects, like this culvert, are not uncommon places for bears to settle in.

"Bears don't need a lot of brush. They just go towards places that are dry and warm," Schaefer said.

But, as gentle as he may look, it is still a wild animal. So, we asked the experts: What do you do if you come in contact with a hibernating bear?

"You want to remain quiet. Try not to disturb them and give them some space so they don't feel trapped or cornered," Schaefer told us.

We were successfully able to do that today. And sure enough, the bear fell back asleep.

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