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Animal rescues and close encounters: B.C.'s top wildlife stories of 2014

12/29/2014 07:08 EST | Updated 02/28/2015 05:59 EST
From curious bears and angry moose to dolphin displays and a jellyfish invasion, here are our top B.C. wildlife video and photo stories of 2014.

Camera-curious grizzly bear caught on video near Revelstoke

The image of a B.C. grizzly bear poised behind a photographer's camera on a tripod went viral in November — and a video uploaded to YouTube shows how the scene unfolded.

The video shows the grizzly, dubbed "Harry the Bear," wandering near photographer Jim Lawrence before moseying up to the camera on a tripod.

After sniffing around, the bear starts to lumber away before turning to check out the equipment more closely. At that moment, Lawrence captured his image of the grizzly, up on its hind legs, peering behind the camera.

- Watch: Camera-curious B.C. grizzly bear captured in YouTube video

Barn owl chicks rescued from Fraser River bridge

In October, three chicks were found by a worker in a nest in one of the dismantled sections of the old Port Mann Bridge, which spanned the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam.

They could not be reunited with their parents and as a result were then cared for by Burnaby's Wildlife Rescue Association, which said after some fluids, warmth, a little rest and hand-feeding, "the siblings soon perked up."

- Photos: Barn owl chicks rescued from old Port Mann bridge

Velella velella turn Tofino shore into sea of blue

Tofino beachgoers were surprised in August by thousands of tiny jellyfish-like creatures that had washed up on local beaches.

Velella velella are small carnivorous animals related to jellyfish and do sting, but not enough to harm people. They can't swim, so their movements are dictated by the wind and the current — far from the coast.

- Watch: Velella velella turn Tofino, B.C., shore into sea of blue

Bald eagle makes a swim for it off Vancouver Island

A Vancouver Island fisherman gave a very tired looking bald eagle a lift to shore in September after finding the exhausted bird floundering in the ocean near Nanoose Bay.

In the video posted on YouTube, the exhausted juvenile eagle appears to swim toward the sport fishing boat before being helped aboard by fisherman Don Dunbar.

The bird was passed on to the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, which reports the malnourished animal ate a whole quail upon arrival at its facility.

- Watch: YouTube video shows fisherman Don Dunbar's bald eagle rescue

Baby bear's golf pole dancing in the Kootenays caught on video

Golfers playing a round at the Fairmont Hot Springs resort in B.C.'s Kootenays in September were surprised to find a bear cub firmly ensconced on the putting green and having all sorts of fun with the hole pole.

The black bear's pole dancing efforts were caught on a phone camera by one of the players before the pesky bear ran off with the ball.

- Watch: Baby bear's pole dancing on golf course caught on YouTube video

White-tailed deer has icy escape in Okanagan

Conservation officers rescued a white-tailed deer that had fallen on a frozen lake in the Okanagan in December. 

The young buck had likely ventured out onto the ice on Duck Lake, near Kelowna,, when it was fleeing from predators.

Conservation officer Ed Seitz used a tranquilizer dart to sedate the deer, then took it to shore in a flat-bottomed boat. It has now been returned to the wild.

- Photos: Deer on ice rescued by conservation officers in Okanagan

Frolicking sea otter filmed in rare sighting near Georgia Strait

B.C. resident Cheryl Alexander almost couldn't believe her eyes when she spotted a sea otter frolicking and feeding in a cove off Ten Mile Point in Victoria in August.

Alexander had her camera ready and she took photos and video of the encounter.

"He swam right up to where we were standing on the shore and we have a couple little steps that go into the water, and he put himself on the first step, boost himself up, and then he tried to get on my husband's kayak," she said.

- Watch: Sea otter caught on camera in rare sighting near B.C.'s Georgia Strait

Mother bear rescues cub from Kootenay National Park highway

A video originally posted on the online edition of Britain's Telegraph newspaper showed ​amazing footage of a mother black bear pulling her young cub from a B.C. highway to safety in May.

According to the Telegraph, tornado hunter Ricky Forbes was driving through Kootenay National Park when he spotted a black bear cub sitting dangerously close to the highway.

Suddenly the mother popped up from behind the concrete barrier at the side of the road and hauled the cub to safety. 

"It was a very amazing sight to see," the Telegraph quoted Forbes as saying.

- Watch: Mother bear rescues cub from B.C. highway

Adams River sockeye salmon run caught on underwater GoPro video 

Millions of sockeye salmon returned to the Adams River near Kamloops in one of the most spectacular displays of natural beauty in the world this year.

In October, the CBC caught underwater GoPro footage of the sockeye salmon spawning — watch it here.

- Watch: Adams River sockeye salmon run near Kamloops draws crowds

Wild horse rescued from raging river in Summerland

The dramatic rescue of a wild horse from Trout Creek in Summerland by local fire crews and volunteers was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube in May.

Rescuers initially managed to put a noose around the horse's head, but it came off after the frightened animal, unused to human handling, struggled free, leaving her farther out in the current.

The shivering horse, later named River by her rescuers, was eventually trapped in a blanket and taken into foster care by O.A.T.S. Horse Rescue where she was nursed back to health.

- Watch: Wild horse rescue from B.C. creek caught on YouTube

Grizzly bear chews on GoPro camera in Knight Inlet

A U.K.-based filmmaker collecting footage of grizzlies in Knight Inlet, on B.C.'s west coast, had one of his cameras snatched by a curious bear in October.

John Kitchin posted the video of the encounter to YouTube last week with the simple description: "[A] grizzly bear stole my GoPro and chewed it."

- Watch: YouTube video shows B.C. grizzly chewing on GoPro camera

Snowy moose attack caught on camera in Smithers

A cellphone video of a moose attacking a woman in Smithers generated concern on Facebook in February.

The video showed the woman walking past the moose in a snowy yard in the northern B.C. community. The moose followed the woman and then appeared to strike her with its front hoof.

Fortunately, the woman was left with only minor injuries. Conservation officer Flint Knibbs said, "Our take on it is that the moose felt it needed to get out of there. It was being cornered, and the easiest way out happened to be over top of this individual."

- Watch: Moose attack caught on camera in Smithers, B.C.

Dolphins, orcas delight watchers in Vancouver, Squamish

If you kept a close eye on the waters near Vancouver and Squamish in March, you may have seen dolphins and even some orcas.

At least two pods of Pacific white-sided dolphins were spotted by paddlers, boaters and seawall walkers off Vancouver's West End while hundreds more were seen and photographed near Squamish.

In the Howe Sound, the dolphins weren't alone — around 15 orcas were close behind, looking for a meal.

- Watch: Dolphins, orcas delight watchers in Vancouver, Squamish

Elk freed from fence with bolt cutters in Kimberley

A YouTube video of a Mountie freeing an elk in the Rocky Mountain Trench east of Kimberley garnered more than 24,000 hits in December.

The female elk was tightly wrapped in a wire fence and was obviously suffering and in distress. Luckily, Sgt. Darrell Robinson was able to approach the elk and free both of its legs with bolt cutters.

Later that day, RCMP put out a news release. "Mountie releases elk," it said, "No charges."

- Watch: Kimberley Mountie frees elk stuck in fence

And finally...the mysterious case of the Squamish sasquatch

Sasquatch seekers got an unexpected treat in May when wildlife biologist Myles Lamont posted a video online, showing what he claimed was a possible sasquatch in the Tantalus Range near Squamish.

The video, which garnered more than a million views on YouTube, showed a black dot of a figure apparently moving up the slope of a snow-covered mountain in a remote area of the range near Tricouni Peak.

"If that's human why would you walk up that ridge or that snow line?" Lamont asks. "Why would he not just go straight down?"

The mystery seemed to have been solved two weeks later, when Peter Tennant, a.k.a. Ridgewalker Pete from White Rock, B.C. came forward, after seeing the sasquatch story on the CBC website.

"[Lamont] did this little pan [around in the video] and I started laughing, because I recognized that valley...That's where I was walking all around. And then I realized... I think that was me."

In the end though, there was more to the two men's accounts than met the eye and the mystery of the Squamish sasquatch continues.

- Watch: Has the Squamish 'Sasquatch' been identified?

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