Michigan Elk Herd Dies Breaking Through Ice on Pond

by Michael Freeman
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You often hear horror stories of people falling through ice on lakes and the like. As you might guess, it often happens to wildlife too. Unfortunately, along those lines, a recent incident saw an entire Michigan elk herd fall through the ice on a pond and none of them survived.

According to Outdoor Life, a dozen elk in Ostego, Michigan fell through the ice on a private pond on December 14, 2021. Only 2 inches of snow covered the frail ice, which is likely what prompted the elk to try and cross. Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a call from two elk hunting guides who reported the animals fell through the ice.

“When the hunters arrived, they saw the elk headed down a slope and onto the ice, traveling approximately 75 to 100 yards out onto the pond,” reported Sgt. Mark Depew of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The animals grouped up and broke through the ice.” Additionally, DNR officer Lt. Jim Gorno said they recovered 11 of the 12 elk afterward, though one sank 50 feet to the pond’s bottom.

Depew stated though DNR officials and conservation officers attempted to save the herd, they were ultimately unsuccessful. The two guides used a chainsaw to try and clear a path for the elk but had to back off. “For the safety of the guides, conservation officers ordered them off the ice to prevent another tragedy,” Depew said.

A silver lining comes in the form of elk being successfully harvested. “As tragic as this is, at least all 11 recovered dead animals were professionally butchered and the meat was distributed to local food banks by Safari Club International and Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger,” Gorno told Outdoor Life.

Colorado Officers Help a Bull Elk Break Free from a Net

Though the Michigan elk herd sadly couldn’t be saved, a bull elk in Colorado was a bit luckier. After getting stuck in a net, the elk received help from Colorado wildlife officers.

FOX 31 broke the story back in October, stating the two-year-old bull elk tangled itself in a residential net. It began panicking, but once wildlife officers arrived, they quickly freed it after tranquilizing it. The Colorado Parks Wildlife Twitter account posted about the incident, providing before and after shots.

“Wildlife officers responded to a call in Genesee of an elk caught in some netting. They were able to tranquilize the elk, which was a bull under two years old, and free it of the entanglement. #WildlifeRescue,” the tweet reads.

The CPW also provided Fox 31 with reminders involving residential decorations and local wildlife. For instance, they state to place lights and other decorations above six feet or attach them to trees and buildings. They also strongly advise contacting them for wildlife entanglement and not intervening yourself.

Outsider.com