Pulaski students build a better bear trap

Bear trap open at Pulaski High School, May 31, 2018 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

PULASKI, Wis. (WLUK) -- Students at Pulaski High School created what they believe is a better way to catch a bear. Their culvert trap is designed not only to trap the animals but transport them as well.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plans to use the new equipment in hopes of addressing a growing bear population in the area.

Advanced agricultural engineering students put this new bear trap to the test Thursday morning. Chasten Fatla triggered it himself.

"To trap a bear, you don't want it to get out," Fatla said.

Fatla and Brock Bogacz spent the last six months designing and building a three-foot-wide, six-foot-long trap.

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"It was kind of an unusual gesture for us to make it for them, but we were up for it. We did it good," Bogacz said.

"What we were looking for is both a trap and transport unit," said James Robaidek, a DNR wildlife biologist.

Robaidek, a Pulaski High alum, worked with the school on projects in the past.

The new bear trap is one of dozens used by conservation groups throughout the Northwoods, and this one will be put in service in Northeast Wisconsin. DNR officials say as the bear population increases, so do the chances of encounters with people.

"In our urban areas, or suburban areas, they do tend to get into trouble once in a while," Robaidek said.

Such as in 2014, when a juvenile male black bear wandered into a Green Bay neighborhood. Wildlife officials tranquilized the animal before transporting it out of town. The DNR says it receives more than 1,000 nuisance calls annually.

"Last year, we moved around 580 bear in Wisconsin," Robaidek said.

And as the DNR drove off, new bear trap in tow, students say they're satisfied with the results.

"You don't just build a bear trap everyday, you know," Fatla said. "It definitely took a lot of brainstorming to figure out what we were going to do for this, but I'm happy with how it turned out."

The DNR estimates it could cost up to $7,000 to buy a new bear trap.

Because the partnership with the high school, the department says it cut that cost by about half.

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