What began as a feel-good story has a sad ending, as the young moose rescued from the river outside Fairview Sunday night was put down Tuesday afternoon. It wasn’t an easy call to make, rescuer Judd Burman said, but after a few days of care, it was clear the moose wasn’t recovering.
“He hasn’t stood up in three days and who knows how long before that,” Burman said.
The moose was spotted stranded on the ice about 15 feet from shore by Burman and his friend Shawn Berry, who were enjoying an afternoon helicopter ride. At first the men didn’t know if it was a moose or a cow, but snapped a few photos of the animal.
That evening at home, Burman said his conscious got the best of him.
“I just wished there was something we could do,” he said.
So he posted one of his photos to Facebook and asked for help.
“I should have known people would be jumping at the chance because everyone likes to do good around here,” Burman said.
He put in a call local landowner Jerry Zimmerman who headed out to help find the moose. While searching, a group of people showed up to help, who have asked Burman not to name them to avoid the press frenzy. They were able to locate the young animal.
“It looked like he’d been there two-three days,” Burman said.
The group of do-gooders worried the moose would be aggressive, so they approached carefully and threw a rope around him to drag him in, expecting him to jump up and run. After several attempts and a still stranded animal, Reidle walked over and grabbed the moose by the ankle.
“He put up no fight at all,” Burman said. “We hoisted him once and he didn’t want to put any weight on his legs.”
After getting him off the ice and to a safe spot, they covered the moose with hay bales to warm him up for the night. The next morning he was a bit more lively, but still couldn’t stand on his own. The group tried electrolytes, feeding him willow tips and even laid a microvascular circulation blanket on him, courtesy of Racquel Schipman.
“He still couldn’t bear his weight. When we stood him up, he would beller,” Burman said.
After a couple days, the group called the game warden.
“He’s been really generous working with us. We met him out there this afternoon and made the decision,” Burman said. “We got him off the ice but we couldn’t get him out of the woods.”
The whole experience was a humbling one, starting out hopeful and ending with Mother Nature having the final say.
“I wanted nothing more than to show up and have him be gone,” Burman said. “My dream was to pull him off the ice, watch him stand up and leave, and go back to watching the football game Sunday night. We gave him a fighting chance, but in the end it just didn’t work out.”
Still, Burman said the good deed was worth it.
“I want to thank the selflessness of the crew that was with me through this whole thing. I could have never done it alone,” he said.