Elk River residents had their own version of a gray whale rescue as they cut a channel through ice to free a moose calf from the frigid stream.

Robin Welter, a fire warden for the Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protection Association, was the first to spot the moose calf that had broken through the ice Saturday afternoon. It had followed a moose cow onto the frozen surface."I called a couple of fellows from town and asked if they wanted to help," Welter said.

Moose rescuers attached a rope to Welter and his chain saw and he headed out across the ice toward the moose. Almost immediately, they had to haul in the rope to rescue Welter, who had crashed through the ice.

After changing his clothes, Welter returned to the hole, along with most of the town. They used ladders and a canoe to negotiate the thin ice, and Jordan donned a wet suit and climbed in the water.

The moose followed the men as they chopped a channel to shore.

"A big cheer went up," Mayor Jim Martin said. "She walked up the hill about 100 feet, rested a half an hour and started feeding."