A photo of a raccoon climbing out of a trash can with a hot dog wins B.C. SPCA award

This image of a raccoon, climbing out of a garbage receptacle near a concession stand in Stanley Park with a hot dog in its mouth, is one of the winners of the B.C. SPCA Wildlife-in-Focus photography contest. (Christiane Cottin)

The number of submissions to the annual B.C. SPCA photo contest doubled in 2021 partly because of COVID-19.

Almost 2,100 photos were submitted in the 13th annual Wildlife-in-Focus photography contest, which is double the number received during any other year. Organizers told CTV News that it’s partly because people stayed close to home this year.

“People haven’t been able to travel much this year and last,” said Erin Ryan, B.C. SPCA research communications and photo contest organizer. “So people are taking more local trips and more local pictures.”

She says the quality of the photos that were sent in from across the province was also better.

The two categories decided by volunteer judges were backyard habits and wild settings.

The winner of the backyard category was a raccoon climbing out of a trash bin with a hot dog in its mouth near a concession stand in Stanley Park.

The SPCA is using the picture, taken by Vancouver resident Christiane Cottin in May, to educate.

“We got permission from Christiane, even before the winning photo was announced, to use her image 'Trash Raccoon' to help promote a wildlife education podcast about not feeding wildlife,” said Ryan.

A photo of a female common merganser bird out for a morning feed in June with its ducklings on Alta Lake in Whistler was the winner of the wild settings category. It was taken by Whistler resident Steve Burgess.

A third “people’s choice” category was used as a fundraiser. Every vote cost $1.

This year, more than $34,000 was raised to help the B.C. SPCA Wild ARC care for injured and orphaned wildlife.

Voters chose a picture of a pair of coyotes by Vancouver resident Colin Beadle as their favourite.

“The money is invaluable to promote the work we do,” added Ryan. “We don’t have the budget to hire photographers.”

The 2021 winning photos, chosen by the judges, as well as the 25 most popular images chosen by the voters will be featured in a photo book that will be sold by the B.C. SPCA. All the winning images, taken by amateur photographers across the province, can be found here.

The 2022 contest opens in July.