Thunder Bay·WATCH

Moose rescued by good Samaritans in northwestern Ontario after falling through ice

A moose is very lucky to be alive after being saved from falling through the ice near Thunder Bay earlier this week.

The potentially dangerous rescue took place this past Monday

Northwestern Ontario moose rescue

1 year ago
Duration 4:42
Some good Samaritans used a chainsaw to cut the ice and help save a moose that had fallen through.

A moose is very lucky to be alive after falling through ice earlier this week.

A group of loggers in northwestern Ontario — Darren Whalley, Mark Wellington, Jordan Hay and Byron Holbik — came to the rescue on Monday afternoon.

Holbik, speaking to CBC News on Wednesday after having shared video of the encounter on social media, said he heard Whalley on the radio saying there was a moose in the water.

This cow moose fell through the ice of upper Windigoostigwan Lake, west of Thunder Bay on Monday Feb. 7, 2022. It had been there for hours before it was rescued by four loggers. (Mark Wellington/Submitted)

Holbik had seen the same cow moose with a calf earlier in the day in the area near a bridge at the top of Windigoostigwan Lake, which is over 100 kilometres west of Thunder Bay.

Holbik said the moose had been in the water for hours, and was occasionally laying its head on the ice to rest. He said the water was about five metres deep, and the moose couldn't touch.

"Darren was already on site and he had a bit of a plan," Holbik said. "He figured we could make a channel in the ice and then use the poles either to guide her out."

The men brought out some straps, in case they had to drag the moose out, and Holbik had a chain saw to cut the ice.

Initially, they started cutting a channel toward the shore, but they measured with a pole and it was too deep.

"So we decided we better cut a channel toward the river where the ice was thinner and it was shallower," Holbik said. "It was only about three feet of water."

Once the channel was cut and smashed with a sledge hammer, the men used long wooden poles and gently urged the moose to make its way over to the shallow area.

Thunder Bay's Byron Holbik cuts ice with chain saw as a fellow rescuer looks on. The chainsaw cut the channel that the moose used to get to shallow water. (Mark Wellington/Submitted)

The moose paused occasionally, then would carry on swimming closer to the shallow water.

Finally the moose found bottom and started to walk in the water toward the ice edge.

"In the video, you can see she ends up standing and then flopping onto the ice," said Holbik. "Then she was able to catch her breath."

Holbik said the moose was motionless on the ice for five or six minutes, before making that last push to freedom.

He said the back legs of the moose fell into the water because the ice broke under her, and she started to move again.

A cow moose is free after being led through an ice channel to shallow water. (Mark Wellington/Submitted)

Holbik said the moose looked like it might go back down the channel toward deep water, so he took evasive action.

"I had to come real close to her and get her to go to the northern shore," he said. "She got up and stood there and gave us a wonderful look."

Holbik said they also saw the cow's tracks on the road the day after the rescue, and feel optimistic it is well and hopefully reunited with its calf

He said all of the people who took part in the rescue never thought twice about it.

."We just felt it was our obligation to get it out of there," Holbik said. "Whatever we we had to do to get it out of there, we would have done it. And we did it."