Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Borough Rescues Reindeer off River Ice

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Friday, December 16, 2016

The Water Rescue Team and Animal Care chief for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough rescued a reindeer off ice of the partly-frozen Matanuska River north of Palmer, where the reindeer had been stuck for two days despite rescue attempts from its owner. A rushing river channel lay between the reindeer and shore.

Capt. Suzanne Stehlik said the concern for the safety of people on the ice is why the team responded. The team negotiated walking on slippery glare ice while leading, a sometimes uncooperative, 140-pound reindeer named Arthur with a rope. A responder then waded through a cold channel of the glacial river guiding Arthur, the reindeer, to the steep shore. Then Arthur was sedated by his owner and loaded onto an orange litter and hauled over gravel riverbed by ATV to a waiting pickup for a ride home. "One of the things that this does for our team is it gives us real life experience to be able to use the skills we trained for," Stehlik said. 

Animal Care staff has been training with Water Rescue recently as we know how important pets are to people, said Deputy Director of Fire & Rescue Ken Barkley.

Water Rescue responders on scene were:
Assistant Chief Lisa Jaeger, Capt. Suzanne Stehlik- the Incident Commander on scene, Capt. Josh Hunsaker, Nicole Streltsova, Brandy Berdeaux, Robbie Teeling, Jose Camacho. Animal Care Chief Mattew Hardwig lured Arthur in with calls and grain.

Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan photos, Mat-Su Borough. Video produced by Stefan Hinman. Video shot by Public Affairs.