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Rescue crew

Behind the Badge

The Moose

District Game Warden Erick Schmidt

I interviewed for a career as a North Dakota game warden in December 2006 in front of four warden supervisors and the chief game warden at the time.

At the end of my interview, I was asked if I had any questions for them.

One question I remember asking was, “As a game warden, what other responsibilities will I have other than enforcing state wildlife laws?”

Paul Freeman, the warden supervisor out of Devils Lake responded by telling me “You will be the representative for the NDGF in your community. If anyone has any game and fish or wildlife related concerns, problems or questions, you are going to be the first person they call.”

I’m sure Paul is well aware of this but his words have rung true on countless occasions in my career with the NDGF.

One such call came in September 2020.

I received a call about a cow moose stuck in a muddy wetland right next to a gravel road southwest of Ashley.

I arrived on scene and one look at the situation told me I was not going to be able to help her out on my own.

The moose looked exhausted from trying to get out the unfortunate situation it found itself in and I was unsure if she would even make it if she was removed from the mud.

That said, I also knew if the moose had any shot at surviving its current predicament, it would have to get out of the mud.

After conferring with NDGF veterinarian Dr. Charlie Bahnson, I contacted the Ashley veterinarian clinic and asked if they would be able to help.

A short time later, Dr. Megan Thomas and two of her veterinarian technicians arrived.

Between the four of us we were able to extricate the moose from the mud and place it on solid ground using a winch, tow straps, my patrol truck and two-by-fours.

Dr. Thomas also administered some intravenous fluids to the moose before leaving her to hopefully rest and recover for the evening.

Unfortunately, in spite of all that effort, I received a call the following morning from one of the vet techs who had helped the previous day.

She lived on a farm not far away and had agreed to check on the moose the following morning.

On her way into work, she discovered the moose had died sometime during the night.

As is such with life, there are not always happy endings.

However I rested a lot easier knowing we gave that moose our best shot at helping it try to make it another day.

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