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'Once in a lifetime': B.C. couple rescues moose stuck in fence

"I wasn't scared. I just figured I need to help this animal."

A B.C. couple can add rescuing a moose to their list of Good Samaritan deeds.

On the morning of Jan. 24, Angie Hillmer and Kirk Barharn were driving along Princeton Summerland Road in the Interior. Around Thirsk Lake, they spotted a moose caught in a fence, lying on its side.

“Aw, poor thing,” said Barharn in a video his wife filmed.

Hillmer suggested that her husband go help the moose. Without hesitation, he started walking right toward the animal. 

“It’s OK baby, we’ll help you. Poor thing, you got stuck there,” says Hillmer in the video.

At the time of the rescue, the Link Lake-area couple was heading to a doctor's appointment in Penticton for Barharn's injured foot. 

"He had no equipment, no gloves and he limped up there,” Hillmer says. 

Once he got to the moose, he noticed that all of its hooves were trapped in the fence.

“It was looking at me with one big red eye,” recalls Barharn. “I wasn’t scared. I just figured I need to help this animal."

The first hoof came out easily; the second one, however, proved to be more challenging.

“I was stressing. I actually had to take a little break and take a breath. It was very tight and I basically had to give it a lot of pull on the wire to unhook it,” says Barharn. 

In the video, the moose gives a slight kick and stands up when freed.

“It just stood up and trotted off into the forest. It looked fine,” he says. “It didn’t look like there was any damage to its legs.”

The whole rescue lasted about three minutes.

B.C. conservation officer Brandon Beck commends the brave action of the bystanders but also suggests contacting the BC Conservation Officer Service.

“It’s great that it all worked out and they were willing to give moose assistance,” he says. “It might be a better process to phone us just because we have all the equipment available.”

Beck explains that moose, if trapped, can get fairly aggressive towards humans.

“It’s great that it all worked out and hats off to him for helping the moose,” he says.

If people see an animal in distress, they can contact the 24/7 RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277.

Beck believes the moose should survive.

“We didn’t receive a call so we didn’t see if there was any blood in the snow. But if it ran off and it looked like everything was intact… it will likely be fine,” he says.

Meanwhile, Hillmer calls her husband a hero. 

“We couldn’t believe it, seriously,” she says. “It was definitely once in a lifetime. It was incredible.”

The couple questions if the fence could be taken down as they’re worried about more animals getting caught in the wires. 

“I know it would be a costly endeavour,” he says. “I’m sure a lot of wildlife have had an issue with it."