Forget humpback whales and grizzly bears. The hottest ticket in Prince Rupert wildlife viewing is "Hammy," a deer with a hammock on his head.
His adventures are being shared in Facebook posts and Snapchat stories. Locals dressed as him for Halloween, and he's even the subject of a T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Have you seen him?"
Hammy's story started in August when Prince Rupert expat Marcedés Mack was back in town for a family visit.
"I heard distress calls from our backyard and went to check things out," she recalled.
"I looked over and saw Hammy caught [in the neighbour's yard] in a hammock thrashing around."
Mack's sister called RCMP who managed to free the deer by cutting away the hammock — save for a large portion of purple fabric that continues to dangle from his right antler to this day.
Mack designated the deer "Hammy" — "for obvious reasons" — and found that when she went back to her new home in Alberta, her thoughts often turned to the young buck.
"I kind of felt an attachment, so I figured if I started a page for him, I could bring the community together to keep tabs on Hammy for me by sharing pics and stories," she wrote in the introduction to the Facebook group "Chronicles of Hammy the Deer".
Dozens of photos have been submitted to the page and there is a nascent Hammy spinoff industry — a few members dressed as Hammy for Halloween, and a local clothing store has created a T-shirt in tribute to his celebrity status.
Frances Riley said Hammy's celebrity status is pretty simple to explain.
"It's kind of an unusual thing with a giant purple ball of fabric attached to his head," she said.
"He looks both noble and ridiculous."
Proceeds from the T-shirt are being donated to the local wildlife shelter, something that makes Mack happy, as she hopes Hammy's story will shine a light on the importance of conservation resources in the region.
As for Hammy himself, Sgt. Tracy Walbauer of the Conservation Officer Service said they don't believe the deer is in any danger because of the piece of hammock still stuck to his head.
"He seems to be feeding fine. He seems to be socializing fine with other deer," he said.
"And he'll lose his antlers. His antlers will fall off this winter... this is a temporary thing."
The Facebook group is already discussing what to do once Hammy loses the rest of his hammock, with suggestions ranging from putting the antlers in a museum to raffling them off and donating the money to a wildlife shelter.
Mack hopes people get to recognize Hammy for more than just his hammock, so he can be tracked beyond the winter, but for now she's enjoying the connections he's created.
"He's touched my heart in a weird way," she said.
"He's like a little treasure for the town."
With files from George Baker.
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