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LA BARGE, Wyo. (AP) — A group of more than 20 people stopped and helped rescue elk that plunged through the ice on a frigid reservoir in western Wyoming.

The rescuers began using chain saws and other tools to cut the ice to reach the elk Friday morning at Palisades Reservoir. The ice proved too thick — up to 2 feet (less than a meter) — so they lassoed the elk to help them to shore, Wyoming Game and Fish Department biologist Gary Fralick said.

They saved about a dozen cow elk and calves after about 45 minutes, the Casper Star-Tribune reported .

“Without that many people helping, many more elk would have died,” he said. “People were trying to pull elk out of the water while people were sawing through ice to make a pathway to the shoreline. It was a big team effort to try and get them out of the ice.”

Two exhausted calves were taken by backhoe to a nearby elk feedground. The calves were later seen standing up.

About 30 elk fell through and died at Palisades two years ago. Fralick said it was the first time in 25 years with the department he could remember so many elk being saved.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune,