A moose was rescued after a passerby discovered it in a building foundation hole in the Summit Park neighborhood on Tuesday. First responders and DWR biologists, with the help of a Summit Park resident, were able to safely extract the moose from the hole, leaving the animal to rest under a tree nearby before wandering into another neighbor’s yard to continue foraging.
DWR Wildlife Specialist Rod Nielsen says this call was unusual and to his recollection, no one from his agency has rescued a moose from a hole filled with water. He says they always respond with immobilizing drugs, but it would have been too dangerous.
““To immobilize the animal, the water was so deep that if we had tried to immobilize it at all, there would have been a great possibility that that animal would have ended up drowning. We estimate the water was five to six feet deep. Once that animal had gone down, somebody would have had to be in there to hold the animal up and the size of the animal and the temperature of the water, that just wasn't feasible.” .”
The Division of Wildlife Resources, Summit County Sheriff and the Park City Fire District responded to the call. They built a ramp and lassoed the moose while trying to pull him out. Nielsen says the moose was exhausted from swimming in the hole for so long. He thinks the animal could have been in there for three hours or more.
Summit Park resident and General Contractor Jim Pankow drove his mini trackhoe a couple of blocks from his home to the site.
“With six feet of standing water in the hole, they tried a ladder and a ramp and tried a couple of different things. Then finally we were able to push a sling under its belly, hook it on the bucket and lift him over the wall.”
Nielsen and the other biologists on the scene evaluated the moose for broken bones or serious injuries and determined it was likely to fully recover.
“You know, it’s a wild animal so they’re not used to human contact, they’re not used to being confined like that. So yeah, naturally he didn't think too much of it. He reacted as such. He was kicking and trying to get loose. We got him down on the ground. We actually ended up cutting the strap to free him. There was a piece of strap that was still around his shoulders but once he got free and walked just a few steps, the remaining strap that was on him just fell to the ground.”
Opinions vary as to how the moose got stuck in the water filled hole. Pankow has lived in Summit Park since the 90’s and could imagine the animal choosing to go for a swim and Nielsen says wild animals can get themselves in all kinds of predicaments.