The wintertime is generally dangerous for any kind of living creature. Trying to survive in the elements is tough enough, and it only becomes all the more perilous once the temperature drops and snow and ice overtake the area.
In Sweden, the winters are often more harsh than other parts of the world, and even those who are used to the cold don’t necessarily fare so well. One couple learned that firsthand recently; they’d been enjoying the views of the lake near their home when they spotted someone struggling in the icy depths—and they were the only ones who could help!
It’s no secret that outlasting the winter plays a massive role when it comes to outdoor living. When exposed to the elements for prolonged periods of time, every day can be a struggle. One couple from Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, unwittingly had a front-row seat to that fact recently.
Like they did on most mornings, Viktor Johannessen and Sigrid Sjösteen had been enjoying the idyllic views of the frozen lake near their home. That was when something unusual suddenly caught their eye…
Gazing across the lake, they noticed movement a few feet offshore. Upon taking a closer look, they realized something was thrashing about in the water! Viktor and Sigrid knew that, whoever it was, it was a matter of life and death—and they had to act fast.
“We noticed that there was something strange about the ice, a few meters out from the beach,” Sigrid later recalled of the event to reporters. But who would be silly enough to wander out onto the half-frozen lake like that?
When the couple rushed out to investigate, they quickly realized it wasn’t a person—but an animal! “We saw that there was a moose [that had] fallen through [the ice],” Sigrid said. While it was common for moose to inhabit the area, neither Viktor nor Sigrid had ever seen one stuck in a frozen lake before!
Both Viktor and Sigrid knew just how cold the water could become during the winter, so they were stunned that, despite having broken through the ice, the water around the moose was already starting to freeze again. This meant serious danger for the poor animal.
By then, the couple knew it was simply far too risky to venture out onto the ice to rescue the flailing moose, but they just had to help. Their first move was to stand nearby to see if the moose could free itself from the freezing lake.
Viktor and Sigrid figured that the water was shallow enough that the moose could break up the newly formed ice and help itself to safety. Unfortunately, “[the water] was too deep,” Sigrid said. “It seemed that it was trying to get up but it did not work.”
That’s when the couple decided to throw caution to the wind: they would have to step out onto the ice to rescue the moose themselves. It would take every ounce of courage and strength they could muster, but they’d had enough of watching the poor animal struggle.
After rushing inside to grab their ice skates and an ax, the couple took a risk by carefully stepping onto the incredibly thin ice. They weren’t exactly sure what they were going to do when they reached the moose…
While they had no experience in rescuing animals, the couple did have one thing going for them—their ability to deal with the extreme cold weather! “We are open-air people who are out a lot on cross-country skates,” Sigrid explained.
They skates toward the flailing animal, and finally the moose was within their reach. Sigrid first decided to use the ax to break up the ice, which she believed would create a path for it to walk back to shore.
Of course, the frightened moose had no idea that she was only trying to help. Unfortunately, each strike of the ax caused the ginormous animal to wade farther away from Sigrid, making any chance of rescue that much more difficult!
Still, the couple was persistent and they continued to make a path for the moose to escape to land. After 40 minutes of chopping the ice, they finally managed to clear out a path. Of course, there was still just one problem…
They had to hope the moose would realize what they’d done and safely walk out from the frozen lake toward the shore! “We had to chop the ice all the way to the beach so that the [moose] was able to touch the bottom,” Sigrid said.
After all that work, Sigrid and Viktor were understandably exhausted—and so was the moose. They were going to have wait for it to regain its strength before getting itself to safety. It was touch-and-go for some time, but the moose made a sudden move that startled Sigrid…
The wary animal began to make his way toward the couple—and the shore. It wasn’t easy, but Sigrid and Viktor were incredibly relieved that their plan worked. They were especially proud that they stepped in to save a helpless animal!
Once the moose was on solid ground, the couple felt an immediate sense of accomplishment. They also weren’t sure what to expect after it was on shore; moose are terribly territorial, after all. Still, this one seemed calm. “It almost felt like it would thank us,” Viktor recalled.
Not a moment later, the moose wandered off into the nearby woods. Meanwhile, all the couple could do was thank their lucky stars that their efforts were successful. “We were incredibly relieved that we managed to save it,” Viktor said.
There’s really no telling what would have happened had Sigrid and Viktor not saw the moose and leapt into action the way they did. But one thing’s certain; they’re heroes for their efforts!
That rescue sure required some serious bravery on Sigrid and Viktor’s part. It can be hard to save an animal that doesn’t know you only want to help, but they persisted. Thankfully, they were successful!
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