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DNR recovers carcasses of 11 elk that fell through ice in Otsego county

David Kenyon/MI Dept. of Natural Resources

The DNR calls it "a very tragic and unfortunate event."

A herd of a dozen elk died Tuesday when they fell through the ice on Crapo lake 20 miles northeast of Gaylord in Otsego county.

Two elk-hunting guides said they saw the animals venture out onto the lake and then fall through the two-inch thick ice into 50 feet of water.

When Department of Natural Resource officers arrived on the scene, the guides were in a rowboat trying to cut an escape path with a chain saw. The DNR said the men were making almost no progress and officers ordered them off the ice for their own safety.

Lt. James Gorno with the DNR said the attempted rescue was a dangerous move, "when we arrived there were citizens trying to rescue those elk and we commend their efforts. But it's just we can't have somebody lose their life trying to save a big animal like that."

Lt. Gorno said the DNR has no records of this kind of mass drowning ever occurring before in Michigan.

Divers have recovered 11 carcasses which are being processed for donation to local charities and food banks.

The DNR says the loss of the animals will not significantly reduce the elk herd in northern lower Michigan.

They also remind everyone that no ice is safe ice.