Huge Bear Crushed Under Combine

At Least The Second Accident This Year

Gary Gustafson Copyright 2006, Bear Hunting Magazine
The Bear Weighed 540 Lbs.

Exclusive as told to Bear Hunting:

Donald Tranberg owns a 200-acre farm 4 miles south of Osseo, WI. He rents out the tillable acres to Randy Schaefer, a local cash-cropper. On Nov. 2, just after noon, Randy called Donald from his combine saying that he had a problem with a bear and needed assistance. Randy was combining corn on the eastern portion of the farm. Many neighbors had reported seeing a bear in previous years, usually a sow with cubs in springtime, but even with trail cameras placed in the wooded area around the farm, the Trangberg family had not witnessed any. The bears that have been seen were not seen often enough for bears to be considered common in the area. Upon receiving the message Don and his son-in-law John Hofer dropped what they were doing, and drove out to where Randy was combining.
Randy had resumed picking corn, but stopped to take the others to where the bear was. Apparently, in the middle of the cornfield, about 60 yards from a gravel road, Randy had come across a large pile of sand/dirt amid the corn rows. As Randy approached with the combine, one of the unit's massive tires fell into the edge of the hole, rendering the combine stuck. It took some doing, but Randy was fortunate to be able to get un-stuck. As he did, he noticed paws, claws, and a bear's head as it tried to climb out of the hole!

Unfortunately, the bear was severely injured. John called 911 not knowing for sure if this classified as an emergency. However they figured that a wounded bear, if on the loose, could indeed be a very dangerous thing. The Trempeleau County authorities were able to contact Warden Kenneth Thompson of Fall Creek, WI.

John took pictures while waiting for the warden to arrive. Even as it appeared evident that the bear was unable to extract himself from the den, when it popped its jaws as a warning to the group, they decided to give it some space.

The bear was in obvious pain. When Warden Thompson arrived, he remarked how large he thought that the bear appeared. The bear was shot by the warden to end its suffering, and the group allowed themselves to get a closer look.

It was evident that the bear was wearing a radio-transmitter collar. Missing was an ear tag said to usually also be applied by researchers. The family is waiting for word on where it was originally radio-collared, it's age and other details.

The only measurement taken of the big boar was 8 feet from the tip of it's nose to it's hind feet. The ever-growing group rolled the bear, with the aid of ramps, onto a pickup truck's rear rack carrier, and they took it to Countryside Cooperatives' Kings Valley Ag Center to weigh it's live weight.

According to the Center's truck scale, the bear checked in at 540 pounds! An avid local bear hunter acquired the bear from the warden and the DNR for the usual possession tag fee for such situations, and will have lots of bear meat for his family this winter.

Many are surprised to hear of a bear denning-up in a cornfield, but situations like this with bears meeting combines happen annually in the state (see Bear Dispatched When Stuck Under Combine). The bear had dug his den nearly vertically into the ground, at over 5 feet deep. An unknown is why the bear didn't seek better cover as the combine, with its roaring engine and thrashing cornstalks, got closer and closer to the den site.

The family will never know that for sure, but they guess a big bear can do whatever he wants.

Copyright 2006 Bear Hunting Magazine. All Rights Reserved

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