Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - A doe and her fawn were both rescued from the icy Clark Fork River on Friday morning by Missoula Fire Department personnel with assistance from the Missoula Police Department.

KGVO News spoke to Missoula City Fire Inspector Jason Hedahl about the dramatic wildlife rescue.

The Doe and her Fawn were Crossing the River when the Ice Gave Way

“Some employees from the Doubletree Hotel saw some deer in the river and that they couldn't get out,” began Inspector Hedahl. “Police arrived first and then they called for City Fire to see what they could do to try and get the deer out. We responded with two engines and then I showed up and one of the mechanics showed up, so it was a team effort to get the deer that were basically stuck in a hole in the ice and they couldn't get out. So basically they were just freezing to death in the river.”

Inspector Hedahl said the deer appeared to be unconscious in the water until rescuers reached them by using a ladder from one of the fire trucks.

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Rescuers used a Fire Department Ladder and Ropes to Rescue the Deer

“I don't know how long they were in there, but when I showed up, they weren't moving at all,” We used a ladder to get out there so it had a pretty good amount of ice but it got weaker the farther you went out, obviously and then they were in a hole about price three feet wide that they couldn't get out of. So we used a ladder and one firefighter was able to get real close to him with a rope rescue and they were able to lasso the body of the deer and they were able to pull them out and then we were afraid that they were going to run back to the river so we were able to kind of corral them away from the river.”

Credit: City of Missoula Fire Department
Credit: City of Missoula Fire Department

Inspector Hedahl said both the doe and the fawn fought to escape their rescuers.

Far from Being Incapacitated, 'They had a lot of Fight in them'

“They basically got up and then ran down the trail towards the university,” he said. “They were perfectly fine and full of energy when we're getting the rope off of them. I was holding one of the back legs and they definitely were able to kick pretty hard still he still had a lot of fight in them.”

Hedahl said it was fortunate that two of the fire department personnel had some wildlife rescue experience.

Coincidentally there were two Firefighters with Wildlife Rescue Experience on Scene

“When I showed up, it was funny because I said we had the two best pet rescuers on scene,” he said. “We had one guy that saved a cat three years ago from a house fire and then we were down in New Mexico and one of the guys saved a calf elk, and both of those guys were on scene. So I was kind of laughing and saying that we had two of our best guys on scene.”

Hedahl said Missoula City Firefighters undergo rigorous ice rescue training later in the winter when the ice is much thicker, but rescuing the deer was good experience and the doe and fawn scampered on their way.

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