Moose Rescued from the Chilkat the cowboy way.

My Photo buddy, Ron Horn was in on this Moose Rescue. 

They worked quite a while on this after the moose was sited and nobody knows how long the moose was in the water before it was sited.  The moose was pregnant and quite large with perhaps two calves.  There was a loader standing by ready to help pull her out, but the ledge of Ice was too sharp and they feared pulling her head off before they could get her out, so they ended up pulling her in by hand.

Ron went out there with just his telephoto 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L lens, probably on his Canon 40D. He had to stop shooting to help out with the lassoing so they could get a line on the head of the moose.  They pulled the moose broad-side to the ice and hooked another sinking lie under her rear legs up onto her belly, then were able to roll her up onto the ice.  A few minutes later, she walked off into the woods.  Temperatures were moderate, as you can see from the attire of the rescuers in the photo.  I was in school at the time and heard about it later that day from Ron.

Here’s an article by Tom Morphet that I pulled from the ADN CLICK HERE!!

HAINES: Six men pull pregnant cow from Chilkat River.

Moose LassoedBy TOM MORPHET
Chilkat Valley News

Published: February 21st, 2008 01:49 AM
Last Modified: February 21st, 2008 02:11 AM

HAINES — The Department of Fish and Game doesn’t recommend it, but six Haines men used rope and a little ingenuity to hoist a pregnant cow moose from a hole in the ice on the Chilkat River, where a strong current was threatening to pull her under.

“We got to play cowboy,” said Charlie DeWitt, a commercial fisherman and lifetime moose hunter, who led the effort. “I’ve killed enough moose in my lifetime and I’ve eaten enough moose. I wanted to give it a chance to make it.”

DeWitt, who works on a state road crew, was driving a loader up the Haines Highway about 7:30 a.m. Friday when he overheard a radio conversation about a moose stuck in the ice near Mile 15.

He figured Fish and Game would handle the situation, but when he arrived 45 minutes later, he found the animal smashing itself against the ice, trying to ram its way out of a hole midway across a 100-foot channel.

“(Fish and Game) didn’t know what to do. I decided to take the bull by the horns. It was right out there in the middle of God and everybody,” said DeWitt, who was joined by other motorists who’d seen or heard of the situation, including Mike Kinison and freelance wildlife photographer Ron Horn.

The cow’s thrashing expanded the size of the hole and eliminated thin ice, giving rescuers confidence in the strength of the ledge that remained. At first, the moose rebuffed help attempts, swimming away when rescuers drew near. Eventually, she seemed to warm to resident Bud Stewart, lifting her head up out of the water to his outstretched hand and allowing him to pet her several times on the nose.

Using a rope Stewart brought from his house, the men lassoed the cow’s snout and eventually got a line around her neck. Horn put down his camera to help and state road crew workers James Sage and Matt Boron joined the effort, but attempts to pull the animal out by the neck failed because the moose could get only one hoof up on the ice.

In the water for at least two hours, the cow began to tire, twice dropping her head under the water, DeWitt said.

“I don’t think she would have lasted another half hour. She was plum tuckered out.”

Holding the cow up out of the water with the neck line, they lowered a second line into the water parallel to the ice edge, and by pulling from either end of the line, snagged the animal’s rear end. The rope slipped around the cow’s belly, but the purchase was sufficient to get enough of the moose out of the water to wrestle the rest of her up onto the ice.

“She never made a peep or a snort or gave us a foul look or nothing. She just laid there as peaceful as can be,” DeWitt said.

They untied the lines, and about a minute later the cow got up and walked onto an island on the west side of the channel.

Horn, known around town for dramatic wildlife photos, missed a shot of the rescue climax, but said he had no regrets.

“The shot that was the great shot was the one of us rolling her out on the ice. But if I’d stayed shooting, the moose would still be in the water. Under those circumstances, you pick up the line and help.”

DeWitt said he hadn’t seen the moose since the rescue, but figured recent mild temperatures might have allowed her to dry out and recover.

“Hopefully, she’s still alive.”

Fish and Game assistant area wildlife biologist Ryan Scott said the rescue was “great,” but that he’d caution residents to keep a safe distance from distressed moose.

“We probably wouldn’t encourage it, just out of concerns for human safety, but I’m thankful they did it. It’s unfortunate that a moose would fall into the river but it probably happens a lot more often than we know about.”

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