Saskatchewan

Melville firefighters rescue pelican from frozen lake

The Melville Fire and Rescue team has helped save many animals over the years. On Sunday afternoon, however, the firefighters received an unusual call. A lonely and injured pelican was sitting on the Melville Reservoir.

'This was different,' says Melville's deputy fire chief about the rescue mission

Firefighters with Melville Fire and Rescue head out toward the pelican on the frozen lake on Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (Tracy Kerestesh)

The Melville Fire and Rescue team has helped to save many animals over the years.

On Sunday afternoon, however, the firefighters received an unusual call. A lonely and injured pelican was sitting on the Melville Reservoir.

"We rescued a parakeet before and a canary and cats and ... humans out of trees and a snake out of a house," said Norm Konechny, who is the deputy fire chief in Melville since 1983.

"But this was different."

With the conditions of the ice being unknown, the rescue crew's special equipment was needed.

After the crew arrived at the frozen lake, firefighters stepped onto the ice with a pontoon boat-like sled.

They started working their way toward the bird, but faced a problem

"We started moving north," said Konechny.

"We were worried about that because we had run out of safety rope."

The crew decided to make a westward swing around the bird to push it toward the east shore, said the deputy fire chief. 

That strategy eventually worked and the pelican made it to shore.

LISTEN | Assistant fire chief Norm Konechny spoke with host Stefani Langenegger on The Morning Edition 

"Our guys were right there and secured the beak," said Konechny

"It was pretty violent. It wasn't very happy with us being there."

They put the pelican into a cage and transported it to Salthaven West, a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Regina.

Staff at the wildlife rescue centre examined the bird, which is now recovering from its ordeal.

It has a fracture in its right femur and is very weak, Salthaven West wrote on social media.

"It is resting comfortably now after enjoying some delicious fish meals."

Melville's deputy fire chief said the team felt sorry for the suffering bird.

"It was kind of a humane thing to do," said Konechny

"Everything worked out well, and … we did get practice using the equipment. It was perfect."

The pelican wakes up from anaesthesia after a round of radiographs at Salthaven West. (Salthaven West)

With files from The Morning Edition

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