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Fishermen Risk Their Lives to Save Bear Cubs From Icy Lake

Our Story Begins at Lake Vygozero

Lake Vygozero is a freshwater lake located in Russia in the northwest region. The lake is known for its unbearably cold temperatures, dropping down to -4 degrees Fahrenheit consistently. This makes it a lake that most folks avoid.

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The Lake Doesn't Get Too Many Animal Visitors...

Because of its large size and incredibly cold temperatures, the majority of wildlife and human life don’t live in the area. Fish are about the only animals that consistently inhabit the terrain. Trying to make it across the frozen lake is definitely not advisable. However, sometimes you have to do what is inadvisable to survive.

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Mama Bear Decided to Risk It All

For reasons unknown, a mother bear and her two cubs decided to try to cross the frozen lake. A mother bear is known as a fierce fighter naturally in the wild, but to protect her young a female bear is not something you’d want to tempt fate with.

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What Was She Thinking?

Knowing that the water was painfully cold, it’s tough to know what pushed her to the point of getting into the water with the two newborn cubs. Unfortunately, the cubs were not as safe as she thought they would be.

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The Choice to Get Into the Lake Was Far From Harmless...

With the two baby bears clinging to their mother’s back, they ventured into the icy waters. Although the momma bear might have made it across the lake on her own, the added weight of the cubs made it a tough journey.

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Mama Bear Made a Tough Call

Breaking out into the middle of the lake, the baby cubs lost their strength to hold on. Momma bear was already moving and losing strength quickly. The two little ones were left swimming for their lives with no land in sight.

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But She Kept a Close Watch...

Unfortunately, the momma bear was not able to help at all. Knowing that sacrificing herself would not allow her cubs to live, she tried to get to safety.

Leaving the cubs to fend for themselves, she could only watch in horror as they struggled for life. Still, she stayed on the land and watched, trying to recover her strength.

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Unusual Behavior

This type of behavior is very uncommon in the animal kingdom, especially for bears. Most mothers would have gone back and tried to save their children even at the potential cost of themselves. Alas, this was not the case.

To be fair, the lake did have a super strong current flowing beneath it. If the mother bear was not familiar with the area, and particularly this lake, then she would have not known about the undercurrent and how difficult it would make the swim.

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Chances of Survival

The cubs, now freezing themselves as they were still relatively young and did not have enough fat to insulate themselves, were trying to swim in the cold lake, but having difficulty making progress. How long can the two cubs survive the pull of the under tow without their mother? Will they freeze and drown?

The chances of survival at this point were decidedly not in the bears’ favors. With land too far away and their mother too exhausted to even get back into the waters, the baby cubs were swimming for their lives.

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An Answer to The Cubs' Prayers

As if in answer to a bear’s prayer, a boat came along the waters. Immediately the fishermen know that something must have gone terrible wrong for the situation to get to this. Without thinking too hard the fishermen rushed into action.

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Formulating a Plan

As the fishermen got closer, the life-or-death of the situation became all too clear. The cubs were losing strength to swim fast, and the mother could only watch on the shore. With no formal plan in mind, the fishermen worked to figure out a way to help.

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Catching Bears

The two fishermen decided to use their crafted skill of catching fish for catching bears! The puzzle now was how to catch the bears without harming them AND making sure that they didn’t harm the fisherman! Not only where they concerned about their own safety from the baby cubs; the fisherman were also worried that the mother bear would gain her strength back and jump into the water to come and try to save them too! If that was the case, and the momma bear tried to jump on board, then the ship itself might capsize.

Assessing the situation, the fisherman began to formulate a plan for how to get the two little cubs out of the water and into the boat. Having never been in this scenario, or even hearing of it, neither fisherman had any experience with this kind of thing.

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They Knew People Would Have to See This to Believe It...

In order to document this incredible situation, one of the fishermen broke out his phone to video the whole thing. No one would believe what they were witnessing unless they had the documentation to back up their claim. Soon after starting to film, the first bear made it to the boat and tried to enter it on its own. Stretching its bear claws into the boat trying to find a way to grab and pull itself out was a struggle as it was already exhausted from its fit for life.

The ledge of the boat was too tall for the cub. Even if it hadn’t been working so hard to keep swimming for so long before coming to the boat, it would have been difficult to climb in. Luckily, the fisherman were quick thinkers and put together a plan to help get the baby bear into the boat.

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Plan A

Using their fishing gear as tools to grab hold of the bear, they began to try and pull and help the cub into the boat. However, this was also dangerous for the fisherman who were trying to help these poor cubs. Bears, even baby bears, have sharp claws and sharp teeth that can cause serious injuries. The fishermen needed a way to try and keep their distance to minimize the chances of getting hurt.

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But Their Plan Wasn't Foolproof

This meant that their best bet was to use the strong jaws of the bear as an asset in their struggle to get the cubs on board. By using the mouth to grab onto one of their fishing rods, they could then get the bear up over the side of the boat without having to try and come to close. Having got the cub to bite onto the road they began to try and bring it on board.

However, this was still not enough to get the little one out of the dangerous waters and into the safety of the boat. Now onto plan B!

(Image via YouTube)
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Formulating Plan B

At this point, the fisherman put their fears aside to help these baby cubs. This was a matter of life and death, and the fisherman were seeing all too quickly why the mother bear had not been able to get across with both cubs on top of her. But if they used their hands they could get seriously injured or be pulled into the freezing waters themselves.

It was an increasingly tough situation, and no one knew exactly what to do. Could they trust the bears not to hurt them? Would the bears work with them to get to safety?

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Reeling it In

This time, the fisherman thought of a plan that might help the bear get into the boat. Using their nets to bring the bear closer and closer then provide some support for hits hind legs, they helped the cub climb in. The biggest concern for the fisherman with this plan was that the nets themselves would not be strong enough to hold a baby cub. They were designed for fish, so their durability was questionable at best for this situation.

Tossing the net into the lake, they began to fish out the first baby bear. This time though, they had to real it in with their own hands, pulling the net closer and closer.

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Time Was Getting Low for the Cubs...

Having used all their strength to survive this long, it was getting harder and harder for them to keep swimming. The first net went out. They caught the baby bear and brought it toward the boat. With the moment of truth at hand, the little cub climbed into the boat.

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Making Progress

This was only the start as they had to make sure that the net didn’t get tangled up with the bear because they had to fish its sibling out of the water as well. The fisherman also had to make sure that the little cubs didn’t decided to eat a fisherman snack to regain their strength. Knowing that the cubs would be scared, they didn’t want to take any chances of spooking the exhausted animals once they were on board.

And the fishermen soon got a first-person account of how heavy an actual baby bear weighs! A fully grown bear can weigh more than half a ton, so it was a good thing these were still cubs and not fully grown adults; the nets probably wouldn’t have held the weight!

(Image via YouTube)
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One Down, One More to Go

Having to reach deep into their strength reserves, the fishermen worked hard to pull the second little bear toward the boat. The baby bear, exhausted from its swimming for survival, was not much help getting toward the boat. Luckily, the other baby bear was further away, so there was not fear of the other baby jumping in on the net, which might have ruined the success they were seeing with the fishing nets.

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Round 2

Because of the first attempt’s success, the fisherman were confident they could handle getting the second little cub into the boat. With a proven method of pulling the baby bear out of the water and into the boat, they felt that this round should go a bit smoother than previously. They were fortunately correct, and the second cub came aboard a bit easier than the first one.

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Mission Accomplished

After pulling together the will power and muscles to pull these two cute cubs out of the water and into the boat they began to feel a sense of relief that they had actually saved them. There were times where the fisherman questioned if they would be able to pull the rescue off!

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Now What?

With the baby bears now safely out of the water, the fishermen began to come up with a plan of what to do with them. Exhausted from the swim and onboarding process, they know that no one wanted to go back to that water. So what to do with the little cubs?

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A Safe Distance

The cubs, though out of immediate danger, still looked rough and week. They were wet, cold and exhausted from their struggles. Not to mention a bit overwhelmed by their new surroundings. This was definitely their first time ever having interactions with humans. They stayed in the corner of the boat obviously too afraid to move.

(Image via @ruslan222 / East2West News)
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Doing the Right Thing

Having gone through a traumatic experience with their furry friends, the fishermen felt a real connection with the cubs and wanted to make sure they made it. Knowing that their mother had to be somewhere close by, they needed to figure out how to get them to her. That was the right thing to do!

(Image via @ruslan222 / East2West News)
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Returning the Cubs to Their Mother

Previously, one of the fisherman had noticed a bear on a shoreline. This was the spot where they had decided to take their newly made friends and drop them off in hopes that the mother bear was still there and would take them. Now they began to worry about the momma bear hurting them. Finally, they found the spot where the fisherman had noticed the bear earlier.

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The Moment the Fishermen Had Been Waiting For

The time that all of their efforts had been for was upon them. This was either going to be one of those incredible moments where the fisherman could watch the cubs be reunited with their mother or a terrifying moment where the mother bear attempts to attack the fishermen for coming too closer to her young.

So many different scenarios ran through the fishermen’s head, but none of them really mattered. They were proud of the deed that they had done and wanted to see it through!

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The Moment of Truth

When the boat came ashore it was a bit of a letdown. The bear did not immediately come out to greet the now-safe cubs, nor did she charge at the helpful fishermen. Although they didn’t see any bears around, they knew that she had to be close by, watching her cubs and waiting for the right time.

Carrying the cubs to land, they dropped them off at safety’s door. They returned to the ship, and while they were waiting they began to realize something…

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The Long Wait

The mother bear wasn’t coming for her cubs. They waited for her as if she was supposed to be there, but she wasn’t coming. This made all of the fisherman scratch their heads as they were sure that the mother bear wouldn’t abandon her young like that. Not knowing how to handle the current scenario, the fisherman waited until one of them noticed something from one of the other banks.

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The Reunion (Finally)

The mother bear was going all out now trying to swim to the shore the baby cubs were now on. Watching the momma bear get closer the fishermen decided that the best bet right now was the safe bet, which meant that they should probably get off the shoreline before momma bear got there. The fishermen were happy to see the two cubs be reunited with their mother.

(Image via Flickr)
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A Happy Ending

From this story we see how important it is to be compassionate to all of things that are obviously struggling. This is a great example of the connection two things can have when one comes in to help when another is in dire need of their help. Helping others can be one of the greatest things that you can do, especially in situations like this!

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