Unfortunately, it’s becoming a common occurrence. Elk trying to cross the Bow River in Banff, Alberta, fall through the ice, cannot get out on their own and simply tread water until help comes or they eventually succumb and drown.
Crews at Parks Canada worked to pull 10 elk from the river over the last several months. They saved five while five others did not survive.
“They’re trying to come into town in the evenings when things have quieted down and to graze on the lawn at (Banff) Central Park and in people’s yards,” Blair Fyten, Parks Canada resource management officer, told CBC. “There’s great habitat on either side of the river, so they’re crossing back and forth constantly.”
Crews use chainsaws and other equipment to carve what amounts to a watery channel from the riverbank to where the elk fell through. They then try to get the animal to make its way to shore or use straps to get them out of the water and off the ice. Even then, some elk are too tired or too cold to get up and walk so crews use blankets to try to improve their blood flow.
Go here to watch a video that describes rescue efforts.
(Photo source: Parks Canada)