Moose falls through ice, rescued in Alaska

A moose that fell through the ice is rescued by neighbors on Chena River.
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 9:23 AM EDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - Early on Easter Sunday, Gary Niese spotted a moose that had fallen through the ice into the Chena River.

“I looked out the window here and right over there you could see this moose fighting for his life,” Niese said. “He was clearly unable to get out of the hole and was fighting with all his effort.”

After about two hours, Niese was able to round up some help.

“Naturally when I heard the call come out on the radio about a moose that needed to be free from the ice, that sounded a lot more exciting than what I was doing at the time,” Alaska State Trooper Trevor Norris said. “So me and the guys ran out there and used it as an opportunity to help out.”

With assistance from neighbors, Norris, Fairbanks resident Eric Dillon, and a handful of wildlife and state troopers worked as a team to help the moose from the ice.

“Put another rope around one of the front legs and then we pulled the calf who was barely out of the hole,” Niese described. “Let it catch its breath, and it was ready to give up at that point.”

Niese says it ended up taking all six of the people there to pull the moose up.

“With the coordinated efforts of all of us, we were able to pull the moose out,” Dillon said. “It was a feat, but it was exhilarating, exciting and a nice outcome to an unfortunate situation.”

The rescuers were thankful to have some help behind the scenes from other neighbors who assisted in the process. Once the moose could stand up, it didn’t want to leave them, they said.

The troopers and neighbors could tell that the moose was appreciative of their efforts.

“Well, now what are we going to do with you?” Niese asked about the animal.

The rescue was addressed in a Facebook post from Alaska State Troopers that says in part, although tired and cold, the moose was able to stand on its own and seemed thankful for the assistance.

Troopers wished the moose a happy Easter and “warned her” of the dangers of thawing ice.

Sunday’s incident was the latest in a string of unusual moose occurrences this winter, including a moose rescue in Anchorage in January, a rescue in Wasilla in March, a house invasion by a moose in Soldotna last week, and a moose that wandered into an Anchorage hospital lobby last week.

Norris says officials generally discourage citizens from attempting to rescue or handle injured wildlife on their own due to the risks associated. He also said that while they ask the public to call them first, they appreciate the help they were provided Sunday.