A deer in Wakefield was euthanized after it fell through the ice and broke its leg on Crystal Lake, despite a dramatic rescue by first responders Thursday morning, town officials said.
The deer was stranded about 500 to 600 feet from the end of Linden Avenue in shallow water, but firefighters were able to pull it to shore around 10:15 a.m., fire Lieutenant Joseph Albert said.
Equipped with protective suits to keep them warm and a sled to pull the deer, they performed a typical water rescue using ropes to maneuver the animal onto the sled and pull it off the ice, he said.
“It was out in the middle of the lake, so we put it on a sled and got it to shore . . . just like any water rescue or ice rescue,” he said.
The deer didn’t put up a fight, Albert said. While it was severely injured, it also trusted the first responders to do their job.
“It knew we were trying to help,” he said.
Wakefield Animal Control Officer Kenneth Stache said it was also freezing and in “deep shock.”
The deer suffered multiple lacerations to its body and had several fractured bones in one of its legs, Stache said. Officials were unsure how long the animal was on the lake before it was discovered.
“Unfortunately, the animal was not able to survive,” he said. “We hoped for a better outcome, but that wasn’t the case for this animal.”
How the deer found itself in the middle of a lake remains a mystery, but Albert said he’s never seen anything like it in 20 years on the job.
He suggested it might have been chased onto the lake by coyotes, while Stache said it was probably just crossing over with other deer when it lost its footing and broke the ice.
“Most likely they were using the lake to cross, but they don’t have pads on their feet, they have hooves,” Stache said. “When they get that far out, they just continue to flail.”
The broken leg is likely the result of the fall, while the lacerations could have come from the ice or the deer’s own hooves, he said. Freezing water also did not work in the deer’s favor, and by the time it was carried ashore, it was already succumbing to its injuries and the low temperature.
Stache said the town’s first responders occasionally rescue people and dogs stuck on lakes, but hardly ever deer.
“The fire department deals with water rescues for humans most of the time, but this is definitely a rare case that this happens with a wild animal,” he said.Alyssa Meyers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at ameyers_.