Red Deer Emergency Services and Medicine River Wildlife Centre came to the rescue of a deer stuck on the partially frozen Red Deer River early Monday afternoon.
Carol Kelly, executive director of the wildlife centre, said she happened to be in Red Deer with other staff members when they got the rescue call.
“It looked like she’d been stuck out there for a least a day by the amount of poop that was out there. As she stood, her legs were slipping and she couldn’t get a grip and she was falling again,” said Kelly about the deer that looked alert.
The deer was crouched on river ice between Red Deer Golf and Country Club and Great Chief Park.
“The concern was if they scared her off the ice towards the river that she would go into the river and we’d lose her.”
Together emergency services and wildlife centre staff slowly circled the deer from a distance and coaxed her to the river bank where the deer ran away into the trees to find a place to recover.
She said the deer had a visible limp when it got to shore and could have sprained her hip sliding on the ice.
An RCMP officer was at the scene just in case the deer was in such bad shape it needed to be destroyed.
“Nobody wanted to have to shoot her. We were all really grateful not to have something like that happen with all the people around,” said Kelly about the small crowd that gathered nearby to watch the rescue.
Curtis Schaefer, assistant deputy chief with Red Deer Emergency Services, said it was the first river rescue of the season. When ice is forming at this time of the year, calls come in about wildlife, pets or people who unfortunately venture onto the soft ice and need assistance getting back to shore.
An inflatable water craft was used during the rescue in order not to spook the deer and staff wore swift water gear.
He said once people started circling the deer it only took about five minutes for it to make it back to shore.
Kelly said Red Deer Emergency Services is always very helpful. But outside the city there are few resources, so the wildlife centre is looking at getting its own rescue boat.
“We get lots of different kinds of bird rescues this time of year. This year has been particular difficult because of the lack of ice. The ice is not safe.”