In the darkness of a cold, early winter morning in Aspen, Colorado, residents heard a commotion. When it got light, they saw what had happened. A small herd of elk cows and calves crossed a frozen pond at the Roaring Fork Valley golf course. However, seven of them, huddled closely together, had broken through the ice and dropped into the frigid water below.
A group of people quickly assembled from state and federal agencies, including the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District and locals, used rope and a tractor to rescue several animals. Others did not survive.
“I ended up stepping out on the ice and lassoing the three, so we could pull them up out of the ice and up onto the bank,” John Groves, Colorado Parks and Wildlife district wildlife manager, told the Post Independent. “I’m glad I got three out but disappointed that five others went through. We’re trying to save them. And watching them go under and not come back up — that’s not a good feeling.”
Forty-five minutes later, after warming up under several blankets, the three elk trotted off into the forest. Crews retrieved the remaining carcasses from the water and donated the meat to those in need.
“It was a group effort to be able to save what we could,” said Groves.
(Photo source: Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District)