13 elk rescued from freezing Wyoming water by Good Samaritans

- At 7:30 in the morning on Dec. 29, Dusty Jones’ commute to work in Jackson, Wyoming was diverted by an unusual wildlife emergency. Near the Alpine Feed Ground in Alpine, a herd of elk suddenly fell through the ice of the Palisades Reservoir, East Idaho News reports, and he ran to join three others at the scene. 

The freezing water measured at least 8 feet deep below inches of ice, and Jones called a friend to bring a chainsaw, as a large group of passersby quickly gathered save the wapiti.

"Before you knew it, there were 30-40 people there," Jones told the outlet. "We began cutting a little path toward the shore so the animals could walk out but they were so cold they couldn't move. That's when we just started grabbing them and pulling them out."

Temperatures hovered around 32 degrees as the group worked for over an hour with officials with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies using ropes, crowbars, tow straps, and other tools to save the animals, according to The News and Observer. Slowly but surely, each of the 13 elk was pulled to safety.

Officials believe that the elk were en route to the nearby feed ground and are thankful that the mission proved successful, as the Palisades Reservoir has proved fatal for wapiti in the past. Wyoming Game & Fish Biologist Gary Fralick told the Casper Star Tribune that in 2015, a herd of 30 elk similarly fell through the ice to their death.

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