SHEDIAC, N.B. — A 225-kilogram female moose was trapped in an icy river for hours on the weekend before axe-wielding New Brunswick firefighters were able to rescue it.
The Shediac fire department got a call at around 9 a.m. Saturday from a homeowner on the Shediac River who had spotted the moose an hour earlier.
"We responded with (wet)suits and the rescue van, and the boys went out with the axes and the sledgehammer to break the ice, to get the moose loose," firefighter Jos LeBlanc, who took a cellphone video of the rescue, said Monday.
He said the half-submerged moose was at first agitated by the firefighters, but calmed down.
"She was confused at first, and then after awhile she was just standing still and she was watching, wasn't moving at all. She probably figured we were trying to help her not harm her, so she was calm."
They smashed a path to the shore, but the animal seemed reluctant to mount the steep riverbank, he said.
A Department of Natural Resources staffer who had been advising the department suggested they leave the river to allow the moose to make its own way out, but it was not able to muster the courage.
So firefighters went back into the ice behind it, and scared it into mounting the tall, slippery bank, LeBlanc said.
"She was kind of slippery, she didn't have the claws to grab or anything, just the big hoofs. She was sliding a little bit, she climbed like a human, kind of, the front paws and the back paws, and she pulled herself up," he said.
"Within a couple of minutes she was out of our sight. When she got on shore she took off, she was moving around quite well."
He said it is unclear whether the moose was otherwise able to recover from its time in the frigid river. LeBlanc said the rescue took about 90 minutes, meaning it spent at least two-and-a-half hours in the icy river.
"It was like minus 14 or 15 during the night, so it was kind of cold. She was all soaking wet, so I don't know how well she did after she got on shore," he said.
"I don't know if she was able later on to get warm under the trees, I don't know what happens with the wild animals."
Watch the rescue in the video above.