Tricia Hurt, husband Brian, and son Brady were fishing in Marsh-Miller Lake on Sunday when they encountered the distraught black bear.
“We knew that if we didn’t do something, we’re pretty sure it wouldn’t have made it to the coast,” Tricia Hurt told CNN. “I was really huffing and huffing, my husband said.”
The family appeared behind the bear, and Brian pulled out of the tub but lost control, but noticed that the bear’s ear was loose. The boat circled again, and after a final tug the bear was freed and swam safely to shore.
Hurt said the terrible experience lasted about five minutes.
“We were so excited! We did our good deed for the day. We will never do this again, and it felt good to help the poor bear. You don’t like to see animals fight,” Hurt said.
By the time they returned to the resort bar, news of their brave act had already spread thanks to some campers watching on the shore.
The Hurts found out from the people at the bar that the bear had been running with the tub over his head for three or four days.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources had been contacted several times, but was unable to locate it due to the wooded, rural landscape, Hurt said.
“We weren’t going to upload the video,” Hurt said. “But we wanted everyone to know that the bear was fine.”