B.C. animal stories that lightened our mood in 2021

·5 min read
Animals that made headlines this year include a lucky elk that was rescued from an avalanche, a northern farmer scolding a lynx that was found in his chicken coop and a bear that approached a Quesnel woman and licked her hand.  (Submitted by Jesse Dahlberg, Chris Paulson and Melanie Porter - image credit)
Animals that made headlines this year include a lucky elk that was rescued from an avalanche, a northern farmer scolding a lynx that was found in his chicken coop and a bear that approached a Quesnel woman and licked her hand. (Submitted by Jesse Dahlberg, Chris Paulson and Melanie Porter - image credit)

In a year shadowed by the ongoing pandemic and extreme natural disasters, it's been increasingly hard to find light-hearted headlines.

But in 2021, animals helped on that front — with stories that put a smile on our faces during a hard year.

Here's a roundup of the moments this year when animals made headlines and lightened our mood:

B.C. farmer grabs lynx by scruff of neck, scolds it for killing chickens

We start off with something completely out of left field involving a northern B.C. farmer who found a lynx in his chicken coop in February.

Instead of yelling at the wild animal, Chris Paulson grabbed the lynx by the scruff of its neck, scooped it from the coop and gave it a gentle scolding.

"He just looked ... a bit like [a kid] with its hand in the chocolate chip bag," Paulson told CBC News from his home near Decker Lake, west of Prince George.

"So I kind of gave him a little lecture and and then told him he shouldn't come back."

WATCH | Farmer Chris Paulson carries lynx back to the coop to survey the damage:

Bear licks Quesnel woman on the hand

Speaking of unexpected animal encounters, a Quesnel, B.C. woman had the surprise of her life when she was sitting on her porch during a November evening and looked up to see a bear right in front of her.

"It came right up to me, right in front of me. And then it came around the right side and literally licked my hand," Melanie Porter said.

When Porter pulled her arm back, she said the bear was startled and and went on its hind legs. At that moment, she was able to take a video of the bear just inches away from her.

"I was like, 'nobody's going to believe this.' So I had to take a picture."

WATCH | A bear approaches and licks a woman on the hand in Quesnel, B.C.:

Red-nose rage: Aggressive deer keep attacking this Rudolph decoration

Talk about animals acting weirdly — a young male deer targeted a Rudolph-themed decoration in Fort Nelson, B.C., this holiday season — head-butting and stomping the living daylights out of what he thinks is a rival buck competing for the attention of female deer.

"Every year a buck in the area attacks him or hits and knocks him over and breaks him," said Arlene Chmelyk, who lives in the northern B.C. city about 160 kilometres south of the Yukon border.

The decoration is actually a 3D archery target that replicates the size and shape of a white-tailed deer. Chmelyk's family first put it up as a decoration five years ago.

WATCH | Rudolph stalked and attacked by rival buck:

Right place at the right time: Man rescues elk from B.C. mountain avalanche

In a story of pure coincidence, a lucky elk was saved by a B.C. man who happened to see the animal become buried in an avalanche and helped to dig it out.

"It was looking at me, I could see its nose moving. It couldn't move, it was in that snow like concrete," Jesse Dahlberg said.

"It was alive and I wanted to save it."

Dahlberg started digging with his hands and managed to free the animal's hindquarters. Within about 15 minutes, enough snow was cleared that he gave it a shove, and it stumbled out of the snow.

Submitted/Jesse Dahlberg
Submitted/Jesse Dahlberg

Killer whales spotted in Vancouver's Coal Harbour a sign of return to balanced ecosystem, expert says

It's always a treat when wild animals, such as killer whales, pay us a visit close to our shores. That's what Robert Johnson saw at Vancouver's seaplane terminal in Coal Harbour back in October, as two orca whales breached the surface right next to the terminal pier.

"It's surreal to see that kind of amazing majesty. That was the largest creature I've ever seen in my life. I can't believe things like that live. It's crazy," he said.

WATCH | Whale sightings on the rise in waters off Vancouver:

Cherished horse, pregnant cow airlifted to safety from flooded Nicola River farms

While much of the latter part of the year's coverage involved the devastating flooding in many parts of the province — many of which included heartbreaking stories of animals — there were some amazing instances of animal rescues.

This one involves a cherished horse and pregnant cow that were rescued from flooded farms on the Nicola River west of Kamloops, B.C., using a helicopter, a specialized livestock harness and a whole lot of ingenuity.

Kim Cardinal said her horse began acting spooked and almost "dancing" as the waters rose. It alerted her to the danger and they got out just in time.

"The horse — Winter — saved my life. I just couldn't bear the thought of him there, dying after that," Cardinal said.

WATCH | Winter the horse is airlifted to safety:

A bobcat was frozen to train tracks in B.C. It was rescued 30 minutes before a train sped by

Another amazing rescue story happened in February, when Cody Reid and his colleagues found a bobcat frozen to train tracks in southeastern B.C.

Reid, a train conductor, believes the bobcat plucked a duck from the nearby river and dragged it up to the tracks for its morning feast. But as the bobcat was likely wet and the weather so cold, it found itself trapped.

Within an hour, Reid and his colleagues freed the animal just in time, since a train sped through about 30 minutes after the bobcat left.

WATCH | Train crews frees a bobcat frozen to train tracks:

Why some pet owners are taking their felines out on the cat walk

Not all animal stories are of those that are wild. Many cat owners are opting to walk their pets, as what may be part of a growing trend.

Cat owners are seeking ways to indulge their pets' primal instincts with exposure to the outdoors, while not letting them roam free where they may endanger themselves or the wildlife they prey on. To that end, leashed walks are a solution some embrace.

"He loves to watch the birds, he loves to watch the squirrels," said Hayley Vendiola of her cat Reinhardt's outdoor escapades. "He does get a chance to sort of get those hunting instincts out, but without us having to worry about him actually killing anything."

WATCH | Cat walkers stroll through Minoru Park:

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