CORNWALL, Ontario - Social media exploded with pleas to help a pair of deer that are stranded on a small patch of ice on the St. Lawrence River - but a rescue appears unlikely.
A Twitter photo, from Nancy Young, showed the two deer lying down looking at the shore.
The photo was retweeted and posted to Facebook dozens of times Sunday afternoon.
Seaway News traveled out to see the deer first-hand Monday morning. They are on a small patch of ice that appears to be solid enough atop a weed bed familiar to local anglers near Marlin's Orchard.
A swift river current has kept the water around the ice constantly churning.
Young said while her hope was to help the deer, she's concerned that if a bunch of people show up looking to help, it could spook the animals into doing something drastic - like jumping in the water.
Young said she would also be concerned about would-be rescuers.
It's unclear how the deer ended up on the ice, and more importantly how they will make it back to shore.
"I really just wanted to help them," Young said.
Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources, said that agency's staff would not be put in harm's way to attempt a rescue.
"Sometimes nature takes its course," she said, adding it would be best for people not to congregate on the shore, as it may spook the deer. "They are very skittish animals. It can often be difficult to tranquilize them."
There's also a queston about just which government jurisdiction the deer are in, considering they are resting atop a waterway, and not land.
Young, who lives in the area, said parts of the river had been frozen recently. Warm temperatures on the weekend may have played a part in thawing out the ice - which may have stranded the deer, though nothing has been confirmed.
Young said the deer were not seen in that area of the river on Saturday.
A slew of hunting and wildlife websites suggest deer can swim, and their metabolism slows down in the winter, so the animals don't have to eat as much to keep their bodies going.
A deer's thick winter coat keeps them warm and the dark-gray color helps absorb the sun's heat. In extreme cold, a deer tightens its skin muscles and the coat hairs stand on end. This traps air near the skin's surface, insulating a deer and keeping it warm.
OPP Const. Pete Robertson told Seaway News while the police can hardly stop an individual from taking their own vessel out onto the water, it's not something they would advise.
"Animals are going to get into trouble," he said. "And while I love nature, you shouldn't risk life and limb."
Temperatures are expected plunge in the days to come, which could refreeze the water surrounding the ice patch.