Rescuing a fallen moose in a Soldotna basement was not something Kenai Peninsula firefighter Gunnar Romatz expected during his shift Sunday.
Nevertheless, that’s exactly where Romatz ended up: helping to extract a young moose from the lower level of a house, where the animal became trapped after falling out of a window.
“Like any curious human being, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I really want to be here for this because there’s no way anyone would believe this,'” he said a few times. hours after Sunday’s rescue. “I can’t even believe it.”
Romatz was one of seven Central Emergency Services firefighters, along with three Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists and two Alaska Wildlife Troopers, who responded to a call in the Soldotna region around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
Two residents of Ciechanski Road heard a noise at night and came out to look at their basement basement, Romatz said. What they saw was a moose that had fallen through a window well.
The basement window is surrounded by a metal grate, which pushes the floor away from the window and forms an opening 2 1/2 or 3 feet wide, he said. “Well, the moose fell in there. His hind legs went through him and then he continued to slide into their basement.
The intruder ended up in the basement bedroom with the door closed, Romatz said.
[From 2017: ‘Mom, Dad, there’s a bear in my room’: A broken window, a dark figure beside the bed]
Firefighters say this is the second time a moose has fallen into the home’s window well, although the first time the animal did not fall completely inside.
The owners could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Joseph Morris of the Alaska Wildlife Troopers said the situation is not uncommon, especially when the weather turns cold and the moose are actively searching for food.
“It’s not as uncommon as you might think for moose to go inside a house,” Morris said.
Fish and game biologists calmed the animal so that it could be transported easily.
Responders rolled the moose onto a mover, essentially a tarp with handles usually used to transport unconscious patients. The moose moved towards the center of the tarp.
“Luckily he was aware enough to help us out a bit honestly,” Romatz said. “Fortunately, it wasn’t an adult moose.”
Carrying the animal through a flight of stairs, into the garage and outside, Romatz said he was a little nervous about the tight angles, but it all went well. The responders watched each other as they moved down the hallway.
“All the while, this moose is just sticking its head up, and you’re two inches from this moose, you know?” he said. “So we’re like, ‘How are you?’ And it just sort of looked at us, ‘I’ve never been in this situation before, you know.’ We neither !
Outside, the workers place the animal, still on the tarpaulin, on the ground, and the biologists get to work. They attended to minor lacerations on the back of the moose’s legs and administered the drug to reverse the effects of the sedative.
“Very successful rescue, no injuries,” Morris said. “Very limited downtime for moose, which seems to be a concern at times.”
To keep the animal calm, Central Emergency Services responders left the area around 11:30 a.m., but Romatz said within 10 or 15 minutes the moose was running without a limp. The animal first took off towards the side of the house with the broken basement window.
“They were like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no!’ But he just went back into the treeline,” Romatz said. “We got a video of it, and it was happy, healthy — and a job well done, apparently.