SLVFD was notified at approx. 7:30 am by Saranac Lake Police Department of a doe through the ice on Lake Flower in the narrows. It is unknown how long she had been in the water struggling to get out and back on the ice shelf. At the request of the SLPD an SLVFD officer responded to the scene to access the situation. SLVFD notified NYSDEC of the situation who also dispatched additional rangers and NYS ENCON officers to assist.
Deer falling through the ice is very common in the Adirondacks. Deer will often self rescue or eventually succumb to the elements.
It is important to note that SLVFD normally does not respond to rescue a deer through the ice. However, due to the location of the deer and serious concerns that untrained well intentioned civilians might attempt to rescue the deer, it was jointly decided that in the best interest of public safety an attempt to remove the doe from the lake by trained ice rescue personnel could be made safely.
SLVFD ice rescue team responded with 10 members and two trucks equipped with ice rescue gear and one airboat.
Three trained ice rescue members flew out in the airboat to access the doe's condition.
An attempt was made to break the ice creating a path for the doe to swim to shore. It became obvious that she did not have the energy to swim to shore or get back on the ice shelf under her own power. The airboat crew then made the decision to attempt to assist her back onto the ice shelf. They carefully approached the deer, who was attempting to swim to the boat. After moving some broken ice sheets out of the way the deer slowly swam towards the airboat, and the three ice rescue members then decided to attempt to pull the large doe into the airboat. She was totally exhausted and did not thrash or kick as the ice rescue techs pulled her into the boat. She was flown back to shore at the Lake Flower boat launch where NYS DEC, NYS ENCON, SLPD and SLVFD initiated attempts to rehab her.
NYSDEC, SLPD and ENCON remained with the deer throughout the morning and early afternoon attempting to warm her up and let her rest and regain strength. After several hours it was decided to move her from the public boat launch parking area near the highway to a safe quiet supervised location to try and let her continue to recover. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of all involved to rescue and rehab her, we are sad to report that she died this evening.
SLVFD has responded to numerous ice rescues over the years, including family pets, especially dogs that get loose and fall through the ice.
SLVFD cautions everyone that no ice is safe ice. Often untrained individuals will attempt an ice rescue and become victims themselves.
Ice conditions are extremely poor and unsafe due to the thaw, heavy snow and re freeze cycle we have been experiencing. Please stay off the ice. Thank you.