Deer rescued from Grand Chute pond

February 24, 2010 12:08:43 PM PST
It wasn't a cat stuck in a tree or a duckling that floated into a storm drain. But firefighters in Wisconsin were called to rescue an animal from quite the predicament Tuesday.

We've all heard of those so-called "lucky ducks." A Grand Chute family has instead found one very lucky deer.

"We have deer frequently in the yard and saw something bobbing in the pond, and right away, I guess my first thought was, "Oh my gosh, did a dog fall in?" said Becky Wiltse.

Becky Wiltse and her three children quickly discovered it wasn't a dog. It was a deer, trapped in open water, unable to climb back onto the ice. Wiltse captured video of the struggle after calling 9-1-1.

Operators dialed the DNR for help.

"It was, you know, trying to stay above. It had its legs up and it would try to jump, and then it would get tired and it would just rest," said Wiltse.

DNR wardens said they couldn't get there on time, so nearby Grand Chute firefighters arrived with water rescue gear and a plan.

"I kind of had the idea to try to use a ladder. I didn't know of any other ways to get it out without losing our equipment also," said Lt. Robert Schipper, Grand Chute, Wisconsin Fire Dept.

At first it swam away, but eventually crews got the deer on the ladder.

"And we almost had it up onto the ice, and then it fell off. And the deer swam around the hole one more time, and pretty much just almost swam right up on the ladder," Schupper said.

Firefighters pulled the ladder with the deer back onto the ice, dragging the animal to safety. But the deer wasn't moving. The DNR told Wiltse, if it didn't get up, the deer would need to be put down.

"And as he's telling me that, he stood up wobbled and actually went back down onto the pond, and we all kind of gasped, thinking, 'Here we go again!' And then he seemed to maintain his balance and ran off into the woods," said Wiltse.

The entire ordeal took about an hour, but is a rescue the firefighters and the family won't soon forget.

"It was a helpless feeling, but a happy ending," said Wiltse.

Firefighters say this is the first rescue of its kind for the department.