Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Deer in the Ice!

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Southampton Harbour – Saturday Morning, February 2, 2008.


River ice clogged the mouth of the Saugeen River and held a hapless deer hostage.


If you looked closely you could see the path the animal took as it swam across the river trying to escape from some dog that was chasing it. Obviously it panicked and jumped into the harbour believing this was its only way to safety. Unfortunately, with the frigid water, low temperatures and hard ice stretching from shore to shore it was the wrong decision.

Somehow it made it across, but at great cost. 


It was exhausted. We weren’t sure how long it had been there. Hypothermia, no doubt, was well on its way. Wide-eyed with fear the creature struggled to climb the shore-ice but kept slipping back into the river. You could see its head bob up then disappear each time it tried to dig its hooves into the frozen river bank.

 Saugeen Shores Police and Saugeen Fire and Rescue were there. Two of its members donned harnesses over their red survival suits. A long, red rescue line with a lasso at the end was played out. They approached the deer who had no idea what was happening. Easing themselves along the ice to the river-edge they tried to slip the loop over the floundering animal who had no intention of cooperating.


            After two attempts the deer was pulled out of the water. It lay there shivering. Then tried to get up and run. Its flight instinct was still strong. The rescuers held it down as the other firefighters tied its front and hind legs. The men hovered close, covering the deer with their bodies, stroking it gently in a vain attempt to warm it and keep it calm.

There was no telling if it was a buck or doe, but it did look young.


            The regional MNR man (Ministry of Natural Resources) was there. Seems the locals have a strong opinion of him. You can tell by everyone’s reaction to his presence that he’s not very popular. They loaded the deer into the bed of his truck. The two rescuers rode in back with it still trying to warm the deer with their bodies. No one thought of blankets.


            Some of the locals called out to the MNR man wanting to know where he was taking the animal. There was no clear answer. Most of those there feared the worst.


            It wasn’t until later, when we were having coffee in Port Elgin that we heard what happened. Seems as though they were getting the needles necessary to put the poor deer to sleep. Euthanasia!


No one in the coffee shop really knew how badly off the animal was. But no one was happy that after all it endured, it wasn’t enough to survive.





Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 2, 2008 at 8:13 PM

Posted in Home Town

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