Ice rescues in Evergreen are not common, but they do happen, even to help an elk that has fallen through the ice.
On Feb. 17, Evergreen Fire/Rescue received a call about a cow elk who fell through the ice in a pond in Timbervale behind Hiwan Homestead Museum, and members of the department’s dive team successfully pulled her out unscathed.
The pond has an aeration system, and firefighters surmise that the elk wanted to drink some water. She walked out onto some thin ice and fell through.
“We’re skilled at this,” said EFR spokeswoman Stacee Martin. “This is not our first wild-animal rescue. We have rescued deer and elk before.”
Firefighters Doug Matheny and Chris Pace donned water rescue suits and cut a channel through the ice so the elk could move as close to the shore as possible. But the elk was tired and cold, so she needed help getting out.
Matheny and Pace grabbed her front legs and dragged her onto the ice. After a few minutes, she got up and turned to look at the firefighters, seemingly thanking them before wandering off.
“This is one of those situations where everyone is happy that we rescued the elk, but with a wild animal, you never know what will happen," Martin said.
Martin called Matheny the department’s animal-rescue hero since he rescued a deer who fell into Evergreen Lake and helped rescue a sleeping bear from under a deck in downtown Evergreen.
She said anyone who sees an animal, whether wild or domestic, fall through the ice should call 911 and leave the rescue to the professionals, who are trained and skilled in ice-water rescues.
“We are on that edge where the ice is going to get thinner and thinner,” she said. “Please don’t try to rescue the animal yourself. Call us. We are glad to come out.”