A Nearly Impossible Rescue

As I was paddling my SUP (standup paddleboard), checking up on wildlife in the San Simeon Cove, I noticed a very young deer on a hidden beach that is almost impossible to climb out of (steep and fragile)…I call it ‘paddler’s beach’ and have had many animals get stuck there or claim it during the winter (including elephant seal sub-adults).

I watched for a while to see if it looked healthy and then paddled over to the beach to see what the deer would do. After watching for a few minutes, it looked healthy yet scared, but it was stuck. It attempted to jump up on least steep part but never came close to making it up the wall.

I left the beach and stayed on my paddleboard far enough away to keep my eye on it and be able to call PWC, Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and anyplace else I thought that could help. After talking to many people, CDFW sent two officers out. They walked out towards San Simeon Point and went off trail to get to the area above the beach.

While they were assessing and planning, the young fawn got scared and ran full speed into the water and then went into one of the spots that can be a blowhole at high tide. The officer handed me a catchpole and I got off my board to try to catch it. Two times I hooked its back legs but it scooted out. Then it swam away from the rocks out toward the open sea and I followed and failed one more time – losing my paddle. I retrieved my paddle and as the fawn was slowing down, I placed the catchpole around it, grabbed the animal and placed it on my board.

I paddled back to the rocks and handed it over to the officers. The fawn was crying occasionally, and its mother was up on hillside calling back. The officers let the fawn go (as it looked healthy – just wet and cold) and it ran directly to mom!

Thanks to everyone who helped and thanks to PWC for helping me call the right people and giving advice.

Article written by Cubby Cashen and is the lead story in the Second Chance Fall 2018 Newsletter.

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