‘I’m going to do something’: Man leads group rescue of moose stuck in frozen lake

A man said he helped lead a group rescue of a moose that got stuck in a frozen lake in Alaska. (Source: KTUU)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:39 PM HST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU/Gray News) - An Anchorage man says he was walking his dogs Tuesday night when he heard a commotion in a nearby lake.

“I heard splashing while I was on the phone and I said, ‘That’s a moose; he’s drowning. I have to go,’” Anchorage resident Wil Graves said.

Graves said a moose had fallen through ice on the lake and ended up getting stuck. The animal created a large hole where the ice broke as it was trying to get out.

According to Graves, a pharmacist, he called authorities regarding the situation and was connected to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Cory Stantorf, an assistant area biologist for Fish and Game in Anchorage, said the department always advises the public to avoid encounters with wildlife, even if it means abandoning a helpless animal.

“We understand there’s a lot of emotion, but we really recommend that people reach out to Alaska troopers or the closest Fish and Game office to assist,” Stantorf said.

In this case, Graves said the department said it couldn’t do anything to help and was told he needed to let nature take its course.

According to Graves, he found this upsetting as he believed the animal was going to die.

“Give me a ticket if you want, but I’m at least going to give it a shot to help the animal out,” Graves said he told officials.

Graves said other people in the area also wanted to do something but just didn’t know what to do.

“You can’t just watch something, or somebody suffer,” he said.

Graves said he got a team together and a rope to help rescue the animal.

“All of us started pulling at the same time, and we got a little bit [of the animal] out at a time,” Graves said.

As soon as the moose was out of the lake, Graves said it seemed to be suffering from hypothermia.

The pharmacist said he ran home to get a tarp and blanket, but upon his return, the moose seemed to be doing better.

Graves said by the time biologists got out to the lake, the moose was up and walking.

“We appreciate that people care about our wildlife in our town, we just don’t want them taking unnecessary risks where they might get hurt,” Stantorf said.

Graves said there were multiple good Samaritans that helped with the rescue, including an older woman who left her coat on top of the moose.

“I’m not going to walk away or just watch it drown,” Graves said. “I’m going to do something to help the animal.”