Whether they caught our attention by diplaying some righteous attitude or stealthily skulked past our home surveillance cameras, the exploits of wildlife (and sometimes domestic animals) that make the North Shore home are often more of a thrill to read about than human endeavors, it seems. This year was no exception, when it came to heeding the call of the wild.
Here are some of our favourite animal stories from 2022:
If you’ve ever wondered, “Who would win in a fight between a house cat and a black bear?” an answer was provided in June.
That’s when a two-year-old Bengal cat named Tigger came face-to-face with a black bear in front of his owner’s home in North Vancouver. Tigger’s owner, Gavin Sturrock, posted a video of the encounter to TikTok, which has since gone viral.
Cat fanciers familiar with feline attitude probably weren’t surprised by Tigger’s alpha energy in this close encounter.
Speaking of alpha traits, a local man took matters into his own hands in October when his own encounter with a bear turned threatening.
Chris Springstead was outside, having a coffee near Mosquito Creek, when he and a black bear that had been rummaging through garbage nearby locked eyes.
The bear "starting coming right at me, kind of like a walk with purpose,” he said.
Springstead steeled himself, raised his arms to look big and “gave a little roar.”
When the bear sped up to a gallop, instinct took over, said Springfield. Who knew a porcelain mug could prove such a powerful weapon?
Another bruin that caught our fancy was engaged in more peaceful pursuits, chilling off in a West Vancouver backyard fish pond to beat the heat in August. A snack of lily flowers added to the Zen vibe.
When it comes to thrilling nature sightings, however, there’s nothing that beats a pod of orca whales, especially if it’s up close and personal. That’s what happened when a local kayaker had a close encounter with a pod of orca whales off West Vancouver’s Eagle Island, describing the experience as a “once in a lifetime” thrill.
“They probably got within 15 metres when they turned direction all of a sudden,” said Ali Shuparski. “So it was quite the adrenaline rush,” she added.
A couple of animals caught our attention when they got themselves in a pickle.
Mira and Bryan O’Connor spotted a mall skunk hobbling about with its head stuck through a domed lid in August. With the help of Critter Care Wildlife Society, a net and a blanket, the skunk was soon on its way to rehabilitation. As for the smell, “You could smell a little bit of it in the air, but it was almost nothing,” said Bryan.
In July, West Vancouver Fire & Rescue members lived up to their reputation as cat rescuers, when they pulled a trapped kitty from the rear end of an SUV at Park Royal.
A family had gone to the mall to have photos taken and brought their little black fur-family member, Kitty, with them.
"When the door opened, the cat jumped out of the vehicle and right into a small space in the back bumper of the car next to theirs," said assistant chief Garrith Michael. Hilarity and heroic efforts by firefighters ensued.
Finally there was a pooped-out pooch who got some special attention from North Shore Rescue and helicopter ride home in August after getting into trouble on the North Shore’s Mount Seymour.
The significant size of the dog named Duke – no shrinking canine, the pup weighed in at about 112 pounds – also complicated the prospect of a rescue.
Eventually, one of North Shore Rescue’s experienced dog handlers got Duke into a dog harness and into the helicopter with his owner. And away they went. All together now: "Awwww."