The dangerous, hazardous ice conditions warning didn’t reach one ice fishing season straggler on Lida Lake.
A lone cow wandered out on the wide expanse of Lake Lida Tuesday morning, March 16—encroaching on Jon Moe’s fishing hot spot.
The roaming bovine caught the eye of Laurie Hanson, a resident near the boat landing—on the north side of the lake, who snapped photos of the cow’s new, adopted home on the Lake Lida range. She also called 911.
“At first we thought it was a moose,” said Hanson. Her husband Dave puled out the binoculars for a closer look. “Nope. It’s a cow.”
The slippery conditions appeared to be affecting the cow’s stride across the frozen surface, said Hanson. It plopped down for a rest at precisely the spot where Pelican Rapids teacher Jon Moe places his ice fishing shanty.
In fact, Moe’s steel fire ring is visible in the photo, as he has been venturing out for some late season ice fishing—stoking a fire to break the chill.
“I think I’ve seen it all now,” said Moe, who also lives on the north side of Lida. Fortunately, Moe estimated ice thickness at about 16 inches at that part of Lida—since he drilled ice holes just a few days ago. However, he added “I’m not sure how you calculate a safe ice thickness for a cow…”
Hanson’s biggest concern about calling the law enforcement dispatch desk was that officers might be compelled to resolve the situation with a fatal bullet to the head of the animal.
“We’ve seen about everything imagineable—but never a cow,” said Hanson. They’ve owned the Lida lot since 1966, and built in 2012. A young moose scurried across their lot one time.
“We’ve been looking or the ‘Vergas Hairy Man,’ but we haven’t spotted him yet,” laughed Laurie, about the legendary “Big Foot” that is reported to room the northern Otter Tail lakes country.
Why would a cow leave the shelter of the shoreline for a hike across the tundra?
Well, only the cow knows for sure. But he/she was probably thirsty after all the heavy labor and went out looking for some unfrozen water to guzzle.
It was learned later that there may have been “prison break-out” at a Lida area farm. Otter Tail County Deputies corralled another convict cow on County Road 4, north of Lida.
Fortunately, all’s well that ends well.
“She walked off the ice the same path she came on,” reported Jon Moe, who briefly escaped his Pelican Rapids classroom, where he’s an elementary school teacher, to be on standby if the deputies needed his lot and yard to gain access to the stranded beast.
By about 12:30 p.m., the deputies Moe reported that deputies were enticing the animal into a cattle trailer, through a set-up of portable cattle gates.
“So it sounds like and looks like every body and every critter safe,” said Moe.
The surface is still frozen, but Lake Lida residents are preparing for the open water season.
A proposal to form a “Lake Improvement District” is expected to be presented to the Otter Tail County Board on March 23.
Meanwhile, the Lake Lida Property Owners Association (LLPOA) will be launching its third annual round of herbicide treatments to control curly-leaf pondweed infestations on South Lake Lida.
The Lida organization has been working for about two years to collect at least 400 signatures in a petition drive to form a Lake Improvement District (LID).
A LID is a local governmental unit, a political subdivision, established by resolution of a county board, city council or by the commissioner of the department of natural resources. A LID allows for greater local involvement in lake management activities.
A LID has taxing authority which enables the lake to gain a steady revenue source for lake improvements, including treating, harvesting and controlling aquatic invasive species.
In Lida’s improvements, curly leaf pondweed has proliferated on South Lida.
The public education effort, to inform Lida property owners about LIDs has been ongoing. The COVID pandemic prevented the traditional annual lake meeting, but board members continued to collect signatures—with about 350 signing on last summer.
There are more than 1,050 properties around the lakes, with about 804 individual owners.
Over the past two years, the Lida Association has spent more than $30,000 on surveys and treatments for curly leaf pondweed. Treatments last spring, 2020, cost $18,000.
Proposed areas for treatment will be determined based on an aquatic plant survey on South Lida in early May.
The chemical treatment is restricted to areas of infestation.
It is anticipated that the treatments will take place in late May or early June.
Minnesota Statute requires notification, and property owners can request that the treatment NOT be done in waters adjacent to their property. Adjacency is defined as waters within 150 feet of the shore lake-ward between property lines. The treatments aim to reduce aquatic invasive species populations which interfere with navigation, impair recreational activities, and cause harm to native plant populations.
Communication can be addressed to: David Hilber, President, Lake Lida Property Owners Association, 41026 Backroad Trail, Pelican Rapids, MN 56572
PHOTO COURTESY LAURIE HANSON