By: Savannah Smith | 01-03-2018 | News
Photo credit: Dusty Jones

Good Samaritans Rescue 13 Elk Trapped in Freezing Wyoming Water

Dusty Jones was just on his routine morning commute to work in Jackson, Wyoming on December 29 when at 7:30 a.m. his attention was diverted to an unusual wildlife emergency. Just near the Alpine Feed Ground in Alpine, a herd of elk fell through the ice of the Palisades Reservoir, and he simply had to run, along with three other Good Samaritans to rescue the poor animals.

The cold was punishing at that time, with the freezing water measured at least 8 feet deep below inches of ice. Jones had to call a friend to request for a chainsaw. Then a large group of other potential rescuers quickly assembled to save the wapiti.

The outpouring of support and concern for the herd of elk were simply amazing. Jones said: “Before you knew it, there were 30-40 people there. We began cutting a little path toward the shore so the animals could walk out but they were so cold they couldn’t move. That’s when we just started grabbing them and pulling them out.”

Soon officials also arrived for the rescue mission to save the trapped elks. It didn’t matter that temperatures hovered around 32 degrees as the group worked for more than an hour with officials from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office deputies using ropes, crowbars, tow straps, and other tools to save the animals.

Team effort and determination pulled off, however. Slowly but surely, each of the 13 elks was pulled to safety.

Officials say that the elk were en route to the nearby feed ground. The officials said they are simply thankful that the mission proved successful. Palisades Reservoir has proved fatal for wapiti in the past. Wyoming Game & Fish Biologist Gary Fralick told the local media that in 2015, a herd composed of 30 elk also fell through the ice in the same fashion, with a different ending as they met their death.

It is good news that this time, it has a much better ending with the successful rescue of the herd of elk.


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