Animals — can we ever get enough of them?
“No” is your answer if you clicked on this story.
We looked back on some of the most memorable and at times terrifying animal-human interactions of the year.
Airborne sea lion seeks human protection
Sometimes when you’re getting hunted down by the largest predator on earth, you have to get creative with your evasion techniques.
In September, a Californian sea lion found itself with few options left as it swam away from a pod of killer whales. That is, until it spotted Ernest and Viesia Gode floating nearby in a 14-foot aluminum boat, engine shut off so as not to disturb the wildlife.
The sea lion, terrified, had other ideas. It jumped into the boat, tipping seawater over the gunnels as Viesia had flattened herself on the bottom of the boat.
The boat almost capsized, according Mark Malleson, a senior guide with Prince of Whales, who witnessed the incident while guiding a whale-watching trip.
“He’s probably crossed paths with killer whales before and seen his buddies getting eaten. It was his instinct to get out of the water,” Malleson said.
Pigs gone wild
Feral pigs seem to be everywhere these days, terrorizing tourists in Barcelona, harassing livestock in Saskatchewan, and last summer, ruining people’s golf game on Vancouver Island.
The animals, which can be both destructive and carriers of disease, have now descended on B.C., plaguing the Cowichan Golf Club near Duncan for months this summer.
“We have to be on top of this problem right away because [feral pigs] can have multiple litters — three or more a year — when in the wild,” said Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of B.C., at the time.
The hogs, which are descendants of domestic pigs that have escaped a farm or mated with a wild pig, were reported to have been aggressive toward people at the golf course.
They are also considered the worst invasive large mammals on the planet.
Many southern U.S. states are already infested with feral pigs, and northern states such as Washington and Montana are concerned about Canadian populations moving south, said Wallin.
As of last summer, there were no known feral breeding populations in B.C.
“The challenge for any invasive species is that people don’t realize until it’s out of control and too late,” she said.
Music teacher scares off bear with trombone
B.C. has one of the highest number of human-bear conflicts in the world. So perhaps it’s no surprise residents have found ways to get creative in discouraging close encounters with their ursine neighbours.
When a black bear was lurking around St. John’s Academy last June, Shawnigan Lake-area music teacher Tristan Clausen took the advice of “make loud noises” to the next level.
“I thought: ‘Well I can do better than that,’ and reached for my trombone and went out,” he said.
For a moment, the bear wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but in the end, he left.
“He wasn’t a fan of my playing, I’ll tell you that,” Clausen said. “I was making a lot of noise on that thing.”
The trombone did the job, albeit only temporarily. A days later, Clausen said the black bear had returned.
Bald eagle raises hawk
Last June, atop a high tree on Gabriola Island, B.C., a redtail hawk managed to ingratiate itself with a family of bald eagles — a blended bird family proving adoption can occur in many forms, not least in the animal world.
Hawk chicks are normally taken by eagles as prey. But according to David Hancock of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, if they aren’t injured as the eagles bring them back to the nest, they can deploy a secret weapon — “begging calls for food.”
When the eagle looks down on the hawk chick, they see a similar hooked beak. In at least six other documented cases, that’s been enough to see the chick as one of their own and start feeding it.
“It’s a response built into the bird. There’s predator instinct and nurturing instinct,” said Hancock.
The B.C. travelling vet who saves animals from swallowed objects
If pets and wild animals could talk, they would agree that Eugene Gorodetsky is a hero.
The travelling veterinarian has spent 20 years pulling foreign objects out of animals' throats, bellies and small intestines, something he described to Glacier Media in September as a "strange little niche."
The trunk of his vehicle is filled with suitcases, scopes and medical tools. Ready to leave Vancouver at a moment's notice, he has visited roughly 500 clinics throughout B.C.
Over the years, Gorodetsky has helped a lot of cats and dogs, but also leopards, lions, and even a miniature horse who ate a bunch of wood shavings.
There was the full-size towel pulled from a Labrador and a Chinese water dragon who swallowed a bell.
As the vet put it, "You could actually hear the bell if you shook him."
RCMP detain, handcuff cougar
How many handcuffs does it take to detain a cougar?
This is a question RCMP officers in Maple Ridge, B.C., found an answer to last February after they received calls of a cougar slinking around a resident’s backyard.
At the time, it was sunny, and conservation officers feared they might have to euthanize the big wild cat.
RCMP officers had another idea that started with a tranquilizer and handcuffs and ended with relocation to another area.
“We certainly did not want to see this beautiful creature euthanized and so, due to the public’s assistance, the cougar was able to be relocated safely,” said the watch commander who oversaw the operation, identified only as Sgt. Hiesler.
B.C. cats battle with owner over blender box
In another edition of “cats rule the Internet,” a Victoria couple found themselves in a protracted battle over ownership of a blender box.
Four-year-old tuxedo cat Max was the first to make himself comfortable in a recently arrived Vitamix blender box. When Max finally left, two other household cats, George or Lando Calrissian, would take his place.
The 'Great Vitamix Standoff,' as the cats’ owners later described it, lasted months and led to a viral set of posts that has since garnered the cats more than 54,000 followers on social media.
“Happy First Vitamixaversary!!” noted a message posted to the cats' Facebook profile last week. “One year ago today, I brought in our fancy new blender and absentmindedly set it down ‘just for a quick sec.’”
“The rest, as they say, is history.”