When you think of Canada, chances are you think about our abundant wildlife—well, after you finish thinking about hockey and poutine. From geese to moose to beavers, we identify with our furred and feathered friends, often to the point of going out of our way to give them a helping hand. (After all, we have opposable thumbs that we can put to good use.)
Here are 10 times Canadians (and honorary Canadians) went above and beyond to help out wildlife in trouble.
When three loons got stranded on frozen lakes one winter in upstate New York’s Adirondack Park, staff at the Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation came to the rescue. Because of a rapid freeze-up, the birds were unable to take off, as loons need open water to get airborne. Bumping the total of loon rescues up to five in one week, scientists also rescued a loon trapped in fishing line, and one that had been stranded on the road, far from open water.
When low tide stranded an orca whale on a rock in B.C.’s Squally Channel, residents and whale researchers from nearby Hartley Bay worked for hours to keep it alive. The group rigged up a water pump and gathered sheets to cover the trapped whale, which was eventually freed when the tide came back in and raised water levels enough that it could swim back out to sea.
When a pod of pilot whales beached themselves near Judique, Cape Breton, local residents rushed to help. Working in teams, they tried to keep the animals moist, while also keeping their blowholes open. Because of the group’s effort, 10 of the 16 whales survived the beaching, swimming back out to sea when the tide came in.
Proving that it’s not just people in burning buildings that need rescuing, firefighters in Swift Current, Saskatchewan came to the rescue when a young deer fell through thin ice on a local creek. Using ropes, the firefighters were able to pull the deer to safety, then wrapped her in blankets and spare clothes to help her warm up. After 45 minutes, she was back to normal and ran off.
Three lobster-men in Digby, Nova Scotia, saved a 16-foot juvenile whale from a fishing net when the whale came close enough to shore for them to help. Fishing nets can cause drowning, deformity, and serious infection, so the whale was lucky that the three were able to cut the net off in a matter of minutes.
RCMP save skunk stuck in Tim Hortons cup
As this article points out, “the only way this story could be more Canadian is if it involved a beaver.” A Manitoba Mountie donned a hazmat suit in order to rescue a skunk that had gotten a Tim Hortons cup stuck on its head. After two tense attempts, the cup finally popped off the skunk’s head, at which point the Mounties bolted.
A moose that had gotten her legs stuck in the slats of a bridge in the dead of winter was rescued by a trapper, a forest ranger, and the skilful application of a chainsaw. Cutting the moose out of the bridge was the only option for rescue, as the average female moose weighs almost 600 pounds. Eventually, a team of five men were able to free the moose —and once her legs thawed out, she was fine.
Vancouver police save stranded ducklings at police station
Vancouver police made way for ducklings when they rescued a mother duck and nine ducklings from a ledge on the third floor of a police station. Using a box, officers gathered up the duckling and took them to street level, where the mother duck flew down and joined them. The entire group was then taken to a nearby creek.
Fawn delivered by c-section on the side of the road
After an Alberta farmer moved a dying deer that had been hit by a car off to the side of the road, he noticed that there was a tiny hoof sticking out of its belly. Grabbing a knife, he intended to kill the deer and stop her suffering, but ended up using it to deliver her baby by c-section after she died on the road’s shoulder. The fawn was delivered safely and moved to an animal sanctuary.
Trapped gulls released in east Vancouver
62 gulls were rescued from a tofu processing plant in east Vancouver after they got stuck in a vat of soybean waste scavenging for a tasty snack. Wildlife Rescue, an animal rescue organization in the city, spent three days cleaning tofu residue off the birds’ feathers, after which they were released in a Vancouver park.