Ice-rescue instructor Gary Mobbs had just finished a training session at Hauser Lake Wednesday night when he got a call that a deer had fallen through the ice.
A nearby homeowner had called a friend who is a volunteer with the Hauser Lake Fire Protection District to report the animal’s plight, and a short time later Mobbs and 11 other firefighters were on the scene and ready to rescue the 120-pound doe.
“I geared up and, let’s see, three other guys geared up too and it was just really a joint venture between us guys on the ice and all the guys on shore, too,” Mobbs said.
It took about 45 minutes and multiple attempts to hoist the deer out of the frigid water. Ultimately, two firefighters hugged the deer to hold it onto a rescue sled that other responders pulled out of the water. When they untangled the doe, she ran off, Mobbs said.
“It probably wanted nothing to do with us,” Simms said.
Fire departments in the area are often called when animals fall through thin ice and into lakes.
“It’s been a while, but we have in the past rescued deer and got them off the ice on Hayden Lake,” said Chris Larson, Northern Lakes Fire Protection District spokesman.
Larson said it’s dangerous for people to attempt such rescues.
The fire department does have special oxygen masks for animals of different sizes and recently rescued a horse in the area, Larson said.
Animal rescues are often done with the help of wardens with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“If we can reach the animal reasonably, we will go out and grab it,” spokeswoman Kiira Siitari said. “It doesn’t come up very often and the call is almost always made for the safety of staff and the public.”
Recently, they were called out when a deer fell into the water near Saint Maries, but with the moving water in the area the animal died before anyone could respond.
“We typically don’t encourage citizens to go out and rescue animals,” Siitari said.
When it came to the deer rescued Wednesday night, Simms was thankful citizens didn’t try to intervene.
“It’s pretty common where people attempting to rescue someone who fell through the ice later become victims of the same issue,” Simms said.
The deer was in good hands with Mobbs, an ice rescue instructor.
“He’s very knowledgeable and good at what he does,” Simms said.
For Mobbs, it was a chance to offer experience to the men he trains and of course lend a helping hand.
“It’s always nice to save a life, whether it’s a human or an animal,” Mobbs said.
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