Tuesday, April 6, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 13 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We’re looking for people who want to make a difference.”
- Juran Greene  
- at the Mass Registration   
Night   

 

Looking Back - John KinnearIn the thirty years I have spent helping to dig holes at the Line Creek Mine I have had occasion to observe a great deal of goings on with the wildlife up that way. The Line Creek valley which lies on the east side of the Wisukitsak Range in the Elk Valley has an ecology and a climate all it’s own, one in which Rocky Mountain sheep, elk, deer, moose and black bear seem to flourish.  Of course the fact that the mine is surrounded by a no-shooting boundary has not gone unnoticed by them. Through that period of time I have been witness to some pretty amazing mining animal interactions.
Probably the most remarkable wildlife encounter I have ever experienced up this valley has to do with a big Bull Moose that had a close encounter of the wet kind. The whole incident had its beginnings a few months prior and involved an exploration hole drilled down at creek level behind the shops where we were attempting to trace some coal measures from one side of the valley to the other. Of course anytime you drill at or near the water table your drill hole is bound to flow water and this particular effort did exactly that. There were some attempts to plug the hole with an inflatable bladder but the ground was just too porous at surface and we had no luck. The hole continued to flow for several months and as one drove by it one noticed that the large level drill pad continually maintained a thin layer of brown water over it that was draining slowly off the lowest corner.
  What we didn’t realize at the time was that the area immediately around the drill hole had eroded to about 10 feet in diameter and just as deep. That muddy skiff of water covering the whole drill pad that appeared to have no depth to it was concealing this development.
Into this watery boobytrap there then entered one unsuspecting moose who no doubt must have been astonished to find that the middle of the wet area he was walking through had no bottom, at least not one he was going to touch with his big lanky legs. I’m not sure how long Bullwinkle had been floundering in that sink hole but when we were finally alerted to the problem we found him to be close to exhaustion and in danger of drowning. The edges of the eroded hole were just too slippery for him to hoist himself out and so there he was, clinging to the edge, covered in mud, bewildered, and desperate.
 
There were four of us who arrived at the site that day and luckily one of our pickups had a long piece of three quarter inch rope stored in a tool box. Our first thought was to loop the rope around the moose’s antlers and with two of us pulling at each end, try and give him that extra edge to drag himself out. We came close but he was just too heavy. So the next plan involved tying the rope into a loop which was still draped over the base of his horns and pulling him out with a truck winch. This time we were successful but once he was yanked out we realized we were now on the horns of our own dilemma, literally. The moose that we had found at the end of his rope was now at the end of ours. We could not let go of the rope otherwise he would wind up dragging all 50 feet away with him and would most certainly get tangled up somewhere and perish. It was then the rescue took a truly comic turn. As he regained his strength and as we teamed up to hang onto the rope the slip knot we had tied in it began to draw closer to his head. Any attempt to move close enough to undo the knot was met with a lowered menacing pair of very intimidating antlers and a stiff tug from a pretty annoyed animal. So there we were, stuck at one end of a rope with a thousand pounds of angry moose at the other. We realized that the only solution was to get as close as we could to the knot and cut the rope. Frantic searches for any sharp device were at first fruitless until one fellow produced a pathetically small pocket knife. As the moose grew stronger and stronger we knew the rope had to be severed soon and so it was that one brave soul began inching his way along its length to try to cut it. With each tentative advance towards him the moose would lower his head in a warning gesture and our knife wielding sacrificial lamb became fairly unnerved by the whole business. Eventually a compromise length was reached and hacked through and our tired and muddy friend moved off up the hillside where he stood quietly regaining his strength and composure. He most assuredly was glad to get rid of those 4 dopes at the end of his rope.
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