Biologists and wildlife officials in the US teamed up with Alaskan locals this week to rescue a 1,000-pound male polar bear trapped in a fishing net on a remote barrier island off Alaska's coast.

A team from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service darted the animal before getting to work on disentangling it. “The biologists first darted the bear from a helicopter,” USGS said in a Facebook post. “Then local residents, using boats, kept the bear from drowning while the tranquilizers took effect.”

Photo by U.S. Geological Survey.

Posted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Sunday, September 6, 2015

Photo by U.S. Geological Survey

Posted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on Sunday, September 6, 2015

After freeing the bear, the biologists performed a quick checkup to ensure it had suffered no injuries, before releasing it back into the wild. "[It was] a great effort by all to keep this magnificent animal in the wild," the USGS said.

This bear is part of the southern Beaufort Sea stock, one of two populations of polar bears that occur in Alaska. The USGS has been studying bears in the southern Beaufort area since the 1980s. In 2008, it published a ruling that listed them as a threatened species under the US Endangered Species Act, noting that growing loss of sea ice and the behavioural effects caused by a changing habitat posed a significant threat to the animals. 

This year, the organisation formed a Polar Bear Recovery Team responsible for drafting a Conservation Management Plan for the species. You can learn more about these efforts on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website.

Top header image: longhorndave, Flickr