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VIDEO: Thunder Bay logging crew rescues moose from icy water

'I'm going down there. I'll save that moose.'

THUNDER BAY, Ont. — The cow moose was floundering in the frigid water, desperately trying to climb onto the ice on Upper Windigoostigwan Lake, when members of a logging crew spotted her.

"As soon as I heard about it, I said 'I'm going down there. I'll save that moose,' " Byron Holbik told TBNewswatch.

The incident happened Monday afternoon near the Brule Creek Road off Highway 11 just west of Huronian, approximately 150 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay.

Holbik posted video to Facebook.

He and co-workers Darren Whalley, Mark Wellington and Jordan Hay knew the moose wouldn't survive the ordeal without help.

So they decided to use a power saw to cut a channel to shallow water, and to use wooden poles to try to guide the shivering animal to safety.

Holbik said he first noticed the moose on the road, along with a calf, on his way to the jobsite to start his shift in the morning.

Later, around shift change time, he heard chatter on the company radio system about a moose that had gone through the ice.

Whalley was already on the scene.

After walking onto the ice to assess the situation, he called out for anyone who had a power saw.

Holbik happened to have one with him, and quickly joined Whalley on the scene, followed by Wellington and Hay.

He believes the moose had been struggling in about 12 feet of water for hours.

The crew used the saw and the poles to create a channel about 25 feet long, in the opposite direction from the channel the moose had made in her futile efforts to get onto the ice.

After some persuasion, she made it to shallower water where she was finally able to clamber up, but she collapsed there in exhaustion. 

"She was shivering. I felt so bad for her," Holbik said.

The moose rested on the ice for about six minutes, but she still wasn't out of danger.

At this point the men gathered around her in a semi-circle to encourage her to head for shore, which she ultimately did.

Holbik assumes the moose was ultimately reunited with its calf, which another worker at one point had observed standing on the shore nearby.  

Describing the rescue operation as "a surreal experience," he said "It was my duty to help, and we all felt the same way."

Holbik credits Whalley with instigating the mission.

"He said 'I think we can save her.'  He got us on the radio."


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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