A fawn chased onto the ice of Esquimalt Lagoon and stranded there was rescued by Colwood firefighters who chopped a path to the animal and coaxed it to shore.
“I am very proud of our RCMP and fire rescue people,” said Deborah Kline, who witnessed the scene on Tuesday. “They are real heroes every day, but to take the time and effort to launch this rescue for a helpless fawn — well, that’s just who they are as good people.”
The Colwood resident was walking along the lagoon when she saw two men jump from their vehicles. The men threw rocks to keep back a dog that chased a fawn onto the ice in the lagoon’s south end, close to Ocean Boulevard and Lagoon Road.
After Kline shouted at the dog, it loped away and she called 911.
West Shore RCMP, Colwood firefighters, the city’s bylaw officer and conservation officer Peter Pauwels arrived about 1 p.m.
The tiny fawn was scrambling on the slippery surface, about 18 metres from the bank near Seafield Road.
Shari Lukens, who also saw the rescue, said the fawn probably hit the ice, slid and just collapsed. “Hoofs on ice don’t work so well. He’d try to get up and his legs would just splay.”
The only humane thing to do was to rescue the fawn, said Colwood Assistant Fire Chief Greg Chow.
Firefighters Josh Pettigrew and Craig Twidale used a motorized inflatable boat, an oar and a pick pole to get to the fawn.
“Because of the amount of ice, we had to use firefighting tools to break through the ice,” Chow said. “With the motor, we were able to get up to the fawn fairly quickly.”
Kline said it was a very creatively orchestrated rescue with the fire chief directing from the shore.
“The one [firefighter] at the front used the long pick to grab onto the ice in front and drag the Zodiac forward, breaking the ice with a paddle, while the one at the back used his long pick to push the boat forward until they had broken enough ice to start the motor,” he said.
Once near the deer, the firefighters used an oar to gently nudge the deer toward the shore.
“They approached slowly as the fawn was frightened,” Lukens said.
Rescuers guided the animal to shallow waters where it bounded away.
“It was gratifying to be able to successfully rescue the animal,” Chow said. “At the end, [Kline] gave me a big hug and that just made my day.”
A crowd gathered to watch the rescue was elated.
“Everyone cheered,” Lukens said. “It was a nice ending to what could have been a not-so-nice story.”