Forrest Parson started off his Monday by saving a moose.
“Not too bad,” he told community radio station WTIP in Grand Marais, Minn., a few hours later.
Parson, owner of Hungry Jack Lodge on the Gunflint Trail, said he was having his morning coffee at the lodge about 7:20 a.m. when he saw a yearling moose slowly walking across the lake.
“For as slow as it was walking across the ice, you could definitely tell it didn’t know what it was doing,” he said.
Although he’s seen a half-dozen or more moose swimming across Hungry Jack Lake in the summer, it’s unusual to see one walking across the ice. It’s likely the young female headed to the ice to escape wolves, Parson said.
“I stepped away to refill my coffee,” he said. “When I looked out, the moose was gone.”
It had fallen through the ice and was struggling to get out. Parson said he was on the phone with his mother and, after watching for a few minutes, decided “I gotta do something about this. I can’t just watch it,” he said.
Parson called local conservation officers, then alerted Jim Morrison at the Gunflint Trail Volunteer Fire Department.
Others had seen the moose struggling in the frigid water, too, and the rescue was soon underway.
Morrison, Parson and others scooted canoes across the ice.
“By the time we got to the moose, it had spent all of its energy,” Parson said.
The crew managed to get tow straps and ropes around the moose and began to pull it out, first one leg, then the other. Within an hour it was lying on the ice, then standing.
“It stood there probably 45 minutes,” Parson said. “It didn’t want to be on that ice.”
It was 10 or 10:30 a.m. before the moose felt comfortable enough to walk on its own to the shore.
“Other than exhaustion and it probably was pretty darn cold, it seemed to be OK,” Parson said.
While the moose may not remember its rescuers, the rescuers will have a story to tell for a long time.