On Friday, January 5 the Milford Police Department (MPD) received an unusual call around 9:30 am in reference to a deer that had fallen through the ice in Haven Lake. Not exactly sure where she was at that time, the women that called the MPD dispatchers had limited information on what lake the deer was located and what condition the doe was in. DNREC (Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental) officials and Milford Police Officer Ed Huey were now on a hunt to find the deer and attempt a rescue before it was too late.
As officer Huey and DNREC official Jeff Howell located the deer they observed that it had in fact fallen through the ice and was failing to pull itself out. Huey reports that the doe was able to get her front legs onto the ice but was unable to remove herself from the waters as her hooves continued to slip.
“The deer was in a hole in the ice and was trying to get up onto the ice and she couldn’t get a hold of it,” commented Officer Huey. “She had icicles on her ears and the ice was about 1 1/3 inch thick at this point.”
After coming up with a rescue plan for the animal, DNREC secured a boat from their Dover offices and Officer Huey, Jeff Howell and Carl Wimckoski put on flotation suits and made their way onto the lake. As the trio made their way out to the deer they had to smash through the ice by running the bow of the boat onto the ice and placing weight on it to break through.
The men were able to cut a channel through the ice between the boat ramp and the VFW Post, creating a path for the doe to swim to safety. The deer was able to swim to the edge of the bank but was having difficulty pulling herself up due to fatigue.
“She was so tired that she actually fell back into the water once she was on shore,” commented Officer Huey. “We used the boat paddle to help her up again and once she was on shore she just collapsed from exhaustion.”
Concerned about the doe being outside in below freezing conditions, DNREC official Jeff Howell checked on the animal again at 2:30 pm and reported that she was “doing pretty well.” According to officer Huey, DNREC officials are only allowed to assist wild animals in dangerous situations, not provide shelter.
“I was very impressed by the DNREC officials,” stated Huey. “they knew exactly what they were doing with animals and icy water rescues. I am grateful to have had the chance to be with them and glad that we were able to rescue the deer.”