Cross Country Checkup

'I was never so afraid of a turtle': When unexpected wildlife encounters go wrong

These three Checkup callers found out the hard way that unexpected encounters with wildlife can be unpleasant.

Checkup callers share their unexpected encounters with nature, including a tough turtle

A snapping turtle sits on the side of a county road waiting to cross. (Toby Talbot/Associated Press)

Nature may be beautiful, but it can also be vicious.

On Sunday, Cross Country Checkup host Duncan McCue asked Canadians to share their unexpected wildlife encounters with everything from bears to leeches.

While some callers looked back on these moments as positive, moving experiences — like one caller who came face-to-face with a hummingbird — others had more uncomfortable meetings.

But even when nature took a bite — literally — these three callers found humour in their unfortunate encounters.

A fish with teeth

If he didn't know it before, young Iain McShane from Kingston, Ont., learned the hard way in northern B.C. that fish can bite.

Last year, McShane, just nine years old at the time, was fishing on the Deh Cho — also known as the Mackenzie River — when a pike jumped out of the water and bit him on the knee.

"There was a little ring of holes — of teeth marks — around my knee," McShane told McCue.

Iain McShane, right, is pictured with his brother Fintan holding a pike caught on the Deh Cho. (Submitted by Michelle McShane)

As the young fisherman tried to clean his wound in the water, things got worse. McShane heard a commotion behind him, and his mom trying to get his attention.

"I saw a cloud of dust go by, and then I saw two muskox — a mom and a baby," he recalled. "I didn't know what to do. I was just freaking out."

The muskox eventually passed without incident and his father, Shawn, crossed the river to grab him. But McShane had plans to get back at the fish.

"We ended up eating the pike that bit me," he said.

Iain McShane was fishing on the Mackenzie River when a pike bite his knee.

Yes, turtles bite

Neville Bryan was driving on Highway 401, near London, Ont., when he decided he would be a good Samaritan. 

A turtle was lying flat on the road, so he stopped his car to help push the creature off the shoulder. 

He grabbed the turtle, which turned out to be a snapping turtle.

"This thing almost took my hand off," Bryan said, laughing. 

Prior to the encounter, Bryan had no idea turtles could snap. He's never seen any in his native Jamaica.

Neville Bryan from Toronto tried to save a turtle crossing the highway. That's when he learned they can bite. (Submitted by Neville Bryan)

He then used a stick to nudge the turtle but Bryan said the creature grabbed it "and broke it in half."

"I was never so afraid of a turtle," Bryan said.

Eventually, he managed to push it off the road into the bushes and shrubs. He says he waited to be sure it didn't wander back onto the road.

"If I was in Jamaica maybe we would have eaten the damn thing."

While driving along highway 401 in Ontario, Neville Bryan stopped to save a small turtle. Then it took a bite out of him.

Skunk standoff

One day, while letting his dog out, Ralph Toninger of Toronto smelled something unmistakable.

A skunk was roaming the backyard. Worried his dog would get sprayed, Toninger ran to get the garden hose.

"But we left the side door open. And who do I have in my living room? It's a nice, freshly-emerged skunk that just came out of hibernation," he said. 

Toninger then tried to lure the skunk out of the house.

Flo the skunk is pictured perched on a rock in this 2012 photo from the Edinburgh Zoo. Editor's note: Flo was not the skunk that broke into Ralph Toninger's home. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

With that, he grabbed a handful of Cheerios and assembled a make-shift tunnel out of couch cushions that ran from the living room to the open door. 

The skunk took the bait.

"We went up to the back door, slammed the door, locked the door to the garage and thankfully averted a spray in the middle of my house," he said. 

Before Ralph Toninger could scare a skunk away with the garden hose, it took off... into his living room.

Written by Mitchell Thompson and Jason Vermes.


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