Suc­cess­ful res­cue op­er­a­tion for a moose calf in dis­tress

The Beacon (Gander) - - News - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS

There’s a moose that owes its life to two Labrador hunters.

On a bright Mon­day af­ter­noon, Bill Saulter and his nephew Scott Saulter of Forteau, got on their snow­mo­biles and headed into their cabin.

It was to be your typ­i­cal win­ter day in the coun­try, check­ing traps and en­joy­ing the great out­doors in the Big Land.

They didn’t ex­pect to be­come he­roes to an an­i­mal in se­ri­ous dis­tress.

As they drove along Pin­ware River, Bill, who was driv­ing ahead, stopped upon a moose calf. It had fallen through the ice and was stuck in the river. With its fur drenched in water, the calf had been strug­gling des­per­ately to get out.

By this time it looked ex­hausted.

No tracks were around, sug­gest­ing the an­i­mal had been stuck there for some time. There was no sign that a moose had been around at all, in fact, ex­cept for the young, antler­less head stick­ing up out of the hole.

It was clearly a mat­ter of life and death for the calf.

Bill waited for his nephew to catch up and to­gether they de­cided to take ac­tion.

“We can’t leave him there, we got to try to get him out,” said Scott.

The two men grabbed their shov­els and started dig­ging. They also started beat­ing down the snow with their snow­shoes. But this proved un­suc­cess­ful and the calf was still un­able to get out of the hole on its own.

Bill and Scott had to find an­other means to com­plete the res­cue op­er­a­tion.

They got a rope and used a long stick to get it down around the calf’s stom­ach, since they couldn’t reach down that far, and tie it around. They tied the other end of the rope onto one of the snow­mo­biles and drove ahead.

It was a strug­gle and Scott es­ti­mates it took an hour or more.

But the mo­men­tum from the ma­chine man­aged to fi­nally pull the weak­ened an­i­mal out with­out in­jur­ing it.

Free at last from its per­ilous predica­ment, but not free of ex­haus­tion, the calf rested near Bill and Scott’s snow­mo­biles.

Af­ter ap­prox­i­mately 20 min­utes, it stood up and headed down the trail.

But as it trekked along, the sim­ple crea­ture kept do­ing a cu­ri­ous thing. Ev­ery few steps, it would stop and look back at its two res­cuers: a strange look of some kind of recog­ni­tion, break­ing across the bar­rier be­tween man and beast.

Scott be­lieves it was a look of ap­pre­ci­a­tion, a way to sort of thank them.

“He was thank­ing us, I’d say,” he said. “He never tried to run away, he was too tired, but he was happy enough to get out I think.”

At that point, they left the an­i­mal and con­tin­ued on their jour­ney. They re­turned about an hour and a half later, and found it rest­ing again.

It even­tu­ally got up and headed into the woods. That was the last Bill and Scott saw of the crea­ture.

They ex­pect the calf will be able to find its mother and sur­vive.

“Lucky to do what we did, or he wouldn’t have made it,” said Scott. “Lucky for him.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHO­TOS

Bill Saulter (pic­tured) and Scott Saulter of Forteau res­cued a moose calf stuck in the ice in Pin­ware River. When the Saulters came upon the calf, noth­ing but its head was stick­ing up out of the ice. Here, Bill can be seen with one of the shov­els just be­fore they started dig­ging out the crea­ture.

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