Multiple agencies work together to safely release bear from small trap at Fort McCoy
Trapper Mike Borchers is shown with Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger on Oct. 28, 2022, with a tranquilized bear after it was safely removed from the trap at Fort McCoy, Wis. Professionals from Fort McCoy, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the U.S. Department of Natural Resources-Wildlife Services worked together to free the bear. (U.S. Army Photo by Tim Wilder/Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

Officials with Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB) were alerted Oct. 28 by a local trapper that a small bear was caught in a trap on North Post at Fort McCoy, and within a short time a team effort took place to get the bear safely released.

Fort McCoy Wildlife Biologist Kevin Luepke with the NRB said he received a call from local trapper Mike Borchers about a yearling bear caught in a trap.

Luepke alerted his supervisor, NRB Chief Tim Wilder, who then took the lead on the response from there.

“The yearling bear had inadvertently gotten caught in the trap,” Wilder said. “Normally bears are strong enough to pull out of a smaller trap like this but this was a smaller bear, and it was having some trouble getting out.”

For assistance, Wilder contacted DeWayne Snobl with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services who is an expert in using a tranquilizer to safely complete the release of the animal from the trap. Snobl, who supports the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for these types of emergency calls, responded quickly.

Also supporting the response to help Snobl were WDNR’s Scott Roepke and Christina Kizewski. And from Fort McCoy, in addition to Wilder, responding to support to help release the bear were Conservation Officer Jesse Haney, Conservation Officer Chris Larson, and Police Officer Andrew Schwartz with the Directorate of Emergency Services Police Department, and Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger also witnessed the release.

Wilder said he was proud of the quick response and teamwork of everyone involved to help get the young bear back on its way.

“The USDA and WDNR employees worked together to tranquilize and remove the bear from the trap,” Wilder said.

“Getting a bear in a trap is a rather unusual occurrence. … The bear was uninjured — other than likely some bruising on the foot — and was released on site.”

Fort McCoy NRB staff members are responsible for all wildlife management support and programs at the installation.

The NRB team regularly works with numerous federal, state, and civilian organizations and agencies to complete that mission.

For more about the wildlife mission at Fort McCoy, visit the post iSportsman page at

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”

Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.