DNR rescues deer from Dead River Basin

A deer returns to the woods after being rescued from the Dead River Basin in Marquette.

MARQUETTE — An area white-tailed deer most likely lived to see the new year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel on Dec. 28 rescued a deer from the Dead River Basin in Marquette, said Sgt. Mark Leadman, a supervisor based at the DNR’s Marquette Customer Service Center. The rescue involved two other DNR employees.

Leadman said DNR wildlife biologist Brian Roell got the call about the deer in distress in cold water.

“He called two of us from Law Division to assist or see what we thought,” Leadman said. “Our first initial assessment was that we probably would have to put the deer down because putting somebody’s life at risk to rescue a deer is never the right call.”

However, they estimated the deer was 30 yards from shore. So they tested the ice and decided they could get close to it, bringing along shoulder harnesses and rescue rope to tie to an officer in case he fell through the ice.

Jeremy Sergey, a conservation officer with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, prepares a lasso to pull the animal onto the ice.

Leadman said conservation officer Jeremy Sergey then put a lasso over the deer’s neck and pulled it onto the ice.

“The deer didn’t fight at all,” Leadman said. “It was pretty winded and worn out by that point.”

They dragged the deer to the shore, giving it a few minutes to get its bearings, and threw a blanket over the animal.

“It’s not going to lay there long,” Leadman said. “The best thing is to get it up and moving around to recirculate and everything. But that thing was very, very cold and obviously couldn’t walk when it first got out.”

Eventually, however, it did move.

Rick McCarthy photos

“There’s no way to track it after that, but by the time we left, it was walking normally and went into the woods and, hopefully, stayed off the basin again and warmed up somewhere in the deeper woods,” Leadman said.

Rick McCarthy, a Dead River landowner who witnessed the rescue, said he was impressed with the DNR’s “professionalism and willingness to come out and do it.”

He believes the deer was in the water for more than three hours.

It’s not known for sure exactly how long the deer was in the water.

However long it was exposed to the icy waters, the rescue probably resulted in one less deer casualty this season.


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