Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wildlife rescue: Saving deer cost pair $90 apiece

Photo capture of WJZ-13 from the Daily Mail.

On the surface, it sounds ridiculous. Two men save a deer struggling for its life in an icy river and each receives a $90 ticket for not wearing a life jacket during the rescue?

Some commenters called James Hart and Khalilalim Abusakran Jr. “heroes.”

But were they?

Or were they just plain dumb?

Candus Thomson, aka the Outdoors Girl at the Baltimore Sun, went with dumb.

Here’s the story:

A deer fell through the ice of the Patapsco River near Baltimore last Thursday. As officials stood by weighing their options, two “Good Samaritans” decided to act. One had a rubber raft.

Baltimore County Fire Department employees warned the would-be rescuers not to act. Then, once they started out onto the ice, Natural Resources Police officers told them they needed to get off the waterway because they weren’t wearing required life jackets.

They acted anyway.

They managed to free the deer by tying a rope around its neck and yanking it to shore. From WBAL-TV.com (where you can also see its on-the-air report) :

"We went out there with some oars and some shovels and started beating at the ice and breaking it up to give the dear an access path out," Abusakran said.

[NRP Sgt. Brian] Albert said that because the men didn't follow instructions, they were each fined $90.

But the men said they did have flotation devices.

"Everyone could see the two big black personal floating devices on the boat," Abusakran said.

Despite getting the tickets, both men said they would do the same thing again.

"I would save a life in a heartbeat, regardless what it was," Hart said.

"It felt good. You can’t replace that feeling," Abusakran said.
Outdoors Girl wrote that the two men were “incredibly lucky that their misguided rescue mission involving a deer swimming in the river didn’t end up killing them or one of the public employees who were called to the scene.”

She wasn’t into giving the men hero status, and for good reason. From Outdoors Girl:

"Given the conditions of the water, what began with an animal in distress could have quickly led to a human tragedy, requiring an emergency response that could have endangered even more lives," Col. George Johnson, NRP superintendent, said in a statement. [...]

"More than likely, if everybody goes away, the deer swims out," said NRP Sgt. Brian Albert of the Patapsco River incident. "They are lucky the deer didn’t kick the living snot out of them."
Good point.

Too bad the deer wasn’t just on the ice rather than in the water. Then they could’ve brought in a helicopter and blown the animal off the ice, like this cool rescue in 2007:




OK, final verdict time. What say you? Heroes? Or just plain dumb?

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