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An RCMP officer lifts a baby seal into a plastic tote that another RCMP officer is holding.

RCMP officers go wild helping animals on West Coast

After some help from RCMP officers, Timbit the seal is now in the care of the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre where he's recovering. Credit: RCMP


Three RCMP officers in British Columbia put their problem-solving skills to the test this spring when things got a little wild — as in, wild animals needing a helping hand.

In White Rock, officers saved an adolescent beaver who made a wrong turn and ended up in the ocean. In Surrey, officers rescued a seal pup believed to be born prematurely and left behind by its mother. And in Kamloops, an officer took in a gosling that was separated from its parents to care for until it's strong enough to rejoin a wild flock of geese.

Hot on the tail

RCMP Cst. Patrick Grydziuszko and another constable were on duty in May when a call came in about a beaver in distress at a popular local beach. The animal was struggling to swim and couldn't get a footing on the shoreline rocks.

"Then it dawned on us that beavers are freshwater animals and it was swimming in the salt water ocean," says Grydziuszko. "It was clear to us if we didn't do anything, the beaver would likely die."

Grydziuszko and his colleague went back to the detachment to get catch-poles — long poles with a loop at the end that are usually used to capture dogs on the loose. A detachment employee had a pet carrier on hand that was a perfect fit for the beaver. The tired animal didn't put up a fight and began to relax once it was out of the briny water and inside the cage.

Grydziuszko brought the beaver to a local wild animal rescue centre where it received veterinary attention and was expected to make a full recovery.

"With general duty policing, you don't really know what you're going to get," says Cst. Patrick Grydziuszko, who works at the RCMP's White Rock detachment. "It requires us to be creative and think on our feet."

Seal of approval

Cst. Cody Raymond in Surrey responded to a similar call after a newborn seal pup was spotted alone on a beach with its mother nowhere in sight. Raymond grabbed a plastic tote from the detachment and drove down to the beach to see if he could help. "He didn't appear injured in any way," says Raymond. "I scooped him up, put a little water in the container and as I walked back to my vehicle, he was moving around and slapping and making some noises."

Raymond called a local animal hospital who suggested he get in touch with the Vancouver Aquarium where they have facilities suited for marine mammals. "They said the mom had probably left and if you put it in back near water when it's that young, it probably won't make it," says Raymond. "The umbilical cord was still attached and they said he was probably born that night and only eight to 12 hours old."

Now, the seal, since named Timbit, is in the care of the Vancouver Aquarium's Marine Mammal Rescue Centre where he's gaining strength and expected to return to the wild.

What's good for the goose

It was a relatively routine shift for RCMP officers in Kamloops when a call came in about a woman who had brought a gosling into her room at a local shelter. After speaking with the woman, the officers found she had the young goose in her coat pocket. The woman reluctantly gave up the gosling and officers planned to return it to the park from where it was taken. Geese will usually adopt an unrelated gosling into their brood but, when officers went back to the park, the rest of the flock had moved on.

Left on its own, the small bird could quickly fall prey to predators like ravens and crows. Cst. Richard Christy knew he'd have room for the bird on his farm. When he spoke with a conservation officer, they decided the best place for the gosling would be alongside his ducks.

"We had the farm and I had baby food and heat lamps and all the stuff he would need without his actual mother and father to keep him alive," says Christy." They grow incredibly fast and the pressure of keeping him alive was a little more than I expected."

He says the fast-growing fowl, named Jerry, developed a teenager's attitude as it grew its feathers and is developing the independence necessary to return to the wild and fend for itself.

"His wings are growing every day and as soon as he's fully mature, there's a stretch in front of the river near me that's always loaded with geese and I'm going to let him go there and see if he follows them," says Christy.

For these officers, wild calls are second nature.

In the past, Raymond brought a racoon that was struck by a car to a rescue centre, Grydziuszko helped a woman remove an unfamiliar cat that had snuck into her car while shopping, and Christy worked with conservation officers to trap and relocate bear cubs.

"As police officers, we approach with care and compassion to help others and that can extend to wildlife as well," says Grydziuszko.

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