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Wolves, sharks and bears: A look at B.C.'s top animal stories of 2023

From people getting too close to animals, to a goat moving into a family's home and an epic ocean battle, there were plenty of animal stories in B.C. this year.

This year's top animal stories left us astonished, amused, and sometimes scratching our heads.

We've compiled a list of extraordinary encounters, unexpected guests, and jaw-dropping moments. 

Epic battle between octopus and sea lion off Vancouver Island captured on video

A B.C. woman who swims in the ocean near Nanaimo three times a week witnessed an epic battle. 

“I was surprised because I’ve never seen an octopus in the wild before to begin with, let alone [in] a battle with a sea lion,” she says.

'Once in a lifetime': B.C. couple rescues moose stuck in fence

A B.C. couple can add rescuing a moose to their list of Good Samaritan deeds.

Angie Hillmer and Kirk Barharn were driving along Princeton Summerland Road in the Interior. Around Thirsk Lake, they spotted a moose caught in a fence, lying on its side.

“Aw, poor thing,” said Barharn in a video his wife filmed.

Investigation launched after extremely close encounters with bears in Whistler

Conservation officers started an investigation in the fall after two people filmed themselves interacting dangerously close to bears in Whistler.

“We are dismayed and disappointed,” said a BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) spokesperson at the time. 

One of the videos shows a black bear eating out of a takeout container on a bench; another shows a bear being followed by a person.

B.C. couple returns home from vacation to find a goat had moved in

A Prince George couple was surprised to see someone had moved into their home while on vacation in Mexico — a goat.

Jon Blanchard and his wife Tanya Mould landed in Edmonton and drove through the night, finally arriving home. When Mould went to grab something, she heard a noise and discovered a goat had made itself at home.

"She was like, 'Oh my God, something just licked the window,'" Blanchard recalls.

Motionless B.C. bird suspended mid-air continues to puzzle many

A mystery unfolded in Surrey after a man captured video of a bird floating in the air, motionless.

The footage shows a dark coloured bird in the sky with nothing attached to it near L.A. Matheson Secondary School. 

“That’s a dead bird and it is just floating in the air, no strings, no nothing,” the man says.

Race Rocks guardian captures two elephant seal births on video

As the lone human resident of Race Rocks, Derek Sterling gets to see the cycles of sea life unfolding every day.

So when two pregnant northern elephant seals hauled out on the rocky Islands of the ecological preserve in Juan de Fuca Strait, he readied his cameras.

Frolicking orcas filmed from picture-perfect vantage point

Galiano resident Douglas Thistle-Walker went for his usual afternoon stroll but happened to witness an unforgettable moment in nature. 

"I was just kind of standing there and then all of a sudden, they just all started like jumping up and having some fun and slapping their tails,” he tells Glacier Media. “The sound... rolling up the cliffs was amazing.”

'Vulnerable' wolves swimming in B.C. waters should be given space: experts

While a coastal wolf swimming in the waters is a beautiful sight to behold, people need to give the animals plenty of space, warn animal experts. 

In March, Maxine Caroline Gillette was in a boat conducting environmental ­monitoring as part of a ­guardianship program when she spotted a wolf swimming near Kyuquot Sound off the coast of Vancouver Island. Keeping her distance, Gillette was able to film the wolf as it headed toward Union Island. 

Strike a paws: Backyard bear becomes subject of B.C. photoshoot

When Eric Koch stepped out on his backyard patio one afternoon, he was startled by what he discovered. 

To his surprise, a large black bear was enjoying his Port Coquitlam backyard and had zero plans to leave. Koch quickly took out his camera to document the close encounter with his new visitor, who stuck around for five hours minding his own business. 

'I nearly fell off': Paddleboarder spots shark in White Rock

A B.C. woman was paddle boarding about 200 metres off the shore in White Rock when she spotted something floating in the water.

"I was nervous," she said. "It was scary because there was nobody around me.”

She quickly realized it was not a seal but a three-metre-long dead bluntnose sixgill shark. 

Diver comes face to face with sturgeon in ocean off Galiano Island

A diver says his heart "just jumped out of my skin" when he came face to face with a three-metre-long sturgeon while scuba diving off of Galiano Island in June.

Zeuss Cochrane was about 15 metres down off the west coast of the island when he felt something "bump" him. 

“This giant fish … its face was right in my face,” Cochrane said. 

'They looked at me': B.C. wolves surprise homeowner with backyard visit

Two wolves decided to pay a Prince Rupert-area homeowner a visit this summer — an encounter she was able to capture on video. 

Micheala Dodds was inside her Port Edward house when her dogs started going berserk.

Wild horses shot in B.C. likely ‘hunted down’ by person with local knowledge: researcher

More than a dozen wild horses were shot and killed in a disheartening act.

Tk'emlups Rural RCMP was notified about a group of dead horses by people off-roading in the area, and police were called to investigate. All 17 wild horses were found scattered over a vast area and were likely killed weeks before they were discovered.