Caught on cam: Deer rescued from frozen Nanaimo, B.C. lake

A deer that had fallen through the ice-covered Westwood Lake in Nanaimo, B.C. was rescued by firefighters on Tuesday afternoon.

Colleen Tomlin was walking around the lake with her brother around 1:30 p.m. when the pair saw the ice moving on the water.

At a closer look, they realized it was a little head bobbing out of the water.

"At first I thought it was a dog but then realized it was a deer," Tomlin told CTV News on Thursday.

Not knowing who to call, she dialed 911 and the RCMP told her she should contact the BC Conservation Officer Service instead, but the Mountie ended up relaying the message as well.

Within 10 minutes, Tomlin says she could see Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s boat in the water.

The conservation service also responded, and in consultation with the fire department, directed them to try to get the deer to swim back to shore by breaking the ice.

When that didn't work, the firefighters picked up the 100-pound female deer, lifted her onto the boat and drove her back to shore.

"She was pretty frozen, there wasn’t much fight left in her," said Stuart Kenning, assistant chief with Nanaimo Fire Rescue.

"It was amazing, you could hear the little thing at one point kind of do its little 'bleep bleep' thing, but they were so tender," added Tomlin.

The fire department has rescued several people and even dogs from falling through ice, but firefighters admit this is their first-ever deer rescue.

"We try to let nature solve its own problems and stay out of the way, but on this one we thought it would be prudent to intervene," said Kenning.

"We didn't want any people going out onto the ice and trying to rescue the deer themselves," he added.

Once on shore and out of the boat, fire crews wrapped the deer in blankets and towels to get warm.

"[It] sat there for a bit and then walked off and lived a happy life I hope," said Kenning.

It is unclear how the deer ended up on the ice, however, conservation officers told Nanaimo Fire Rescue that sometimes they get spooked by a dog or predator and will head to the water for safety.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue wants to remind everyone that people should contact them or conservation if they see an animal in distress, or if they've seen an animal fall through ice. 

Do you already have, or are you planning to have a heat pump or air conditioning unit installed before summer?

Contact Us

If you have a news tip, story idea or to reach a radio host, contact us here.