The N.L. moose who fell through the North Atlantic ice and lived

The moose almost didn't make it. But a dramatic ice-top rescue saved his life — and at the same time, nearly failed to save it.

In 1985, wildlife officials and fishermen teamed up to undertake dramatic rescue of trapped moose

Saving the moose

38 years ago
Duration 1:56
A moose survived a close call with death after plunging through the ice off Torbay, N.L., in March 1985.

The moose calf almost didn't make it.

But a dramatic ice-top rescue saved his life — and at the same time, nearly failed to save it.

The trouble started when the moose jumped off a wharf in Torbay, N.L., and started walking across the ice in the harbour on top of the North Atlantic. 

Then he fell through.

'He gave up'

The moose calf had fallen through the ice in the North Atlantic and found itself in a dangerous situation. (The National/CBC Archives)

"He made futile attempts to free himself, but finally, exhausted, he gave up," the CBC's Maureen Anonsen told viewers, in a report that ran on The National on March 8, 1985.

Wildlife officials made their way to the scene, as did some local fishermen who helped in the rescue effort.

They brought a ladder with them, as well as some ropes and slings. And a helicopter was also there to help out.

"When they reached the moose, he was feeble and frightened. They tried to calm him," said Anonsen. "Finally, they lifted him out."

'The rescue attempt had failed'

The first attempt to save the moose failed when he fell out of the harness and back through the ice. (The National/CBC Archives)

But just moments after his body was out of the icy water, the calf fell out of the harness lifting it and back down through the ice again.

"He fell about two metres," Anonsen said. "The rescue attempted had failed."

Fortunately, a second attempt worked and the moose was airlifted to safety.

"Miraculously, after spending three hours in the North Atlantic ice, the moose got on his feet and walked away," Anonsen said.

It was an ending fit for a Danger Bay episode, though on the wrong Canadian ocean.

Fortunately, the moose was able to walk away from his ordeal in Torbay, N.L., after being rescued on March 8, 1985. (The National/CBC Archives)

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?