Getting BEAR SMART is a shared responsibility

A Bear-Friendly Capture Net

The catch net set-up.

Affixing the net to the tree.

Capture nets provide a safe method for removing immobilized bears and other wildlife from trees (when used properly).

This particular net has two halves and each half is stuffed into a backpack for rapid transport.  Each pack weighs about 40lbs. The pictures (right) show how the net is affixed to the tree and how the two halves connect to each other. See tarp specs below.

According to Rich Beausoleil, Bear & Cougar Specialist and Karelian Bear Dog Handler for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, this safety device does have its limitations. In the majority of the cases (especially with cougars), officers need to climb the tree to retrieve the animal and then lower it down safely using ropes. Bears often fall by themsleves when tranquilized, but there are cases when officers will need to climb the tree to retrieve the bear. That said, officers using this system should be comfortable with climbing trees safely.

Furthermore, there is a limit to how high the bear is in the tree……the higher the bear is in the tree, the further away from the stem of the tree it will fall…..so the tarp has its limitations with regards to safety of the bear/animal and the user should give adequate consideration to that. Bears should not be darted who are expected to fall more than 40 feet.

Basic set-up:

The first step is to secure a daisy chain to the stem of the tree.  The daisy chain needs to be set as high as possible on the tree (6-8 feet is usually sufficient). Next, the two halves of the net are secured to the daisy chain using karabiners. When you pass the stem of the tree, each half connects to itself using karabiners.  There are about 12 ropes on the ends of the net that need to be secured to surrounding trees (this is what lifts the net and keeps it elevated).

The height is very important, becuase when the animal falls, there must be enough flex in the net so that the inertia of the fall doesn’t allow the animal to hit the ground when the net flexes.  The multiple loops on the daisy chain allow the user to use trees of multiple sizes and even on occasion, dual-stemmed trees.

The videos below show a bear being removed from a tree. In this situation, the net was affixed to the tree, but the outside straps were held up by officers rather than being affixed to other trees.

Tarp specs:

  • Fabric: Nylon, Michigan Cordura, 1000 denier
  • Color: Forest Green
  • Hem: 2″ Weldable Webbing
  • Grommet: #4 Spur @ 6″ O/C
  • D-Ring: Heavy Duty 2″ Welded Steel
  • Webbing: Nylon, Heavy Duty, 2″
  • Straight edge measurement on each half: 19 feet


Read this
news story about the net being used to safely get a bear out of an tree in an urban area.

For more information, please contact:

Rich Beausoleil, Bear & Cougar Specialist
Karelian Bear Dog Handler (Cash)
Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
3515 State Highway 97A, Wenatchee, WA 98801
ph: (509) 664-3148
e-mail: richard.beausoleil@dfw.wa.gov