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HomeTechnology & Science5 cougars caught on trail camera by wildlife enthusiast in Powell River,...

5 cougars caught on trail camera by wildlife enthusiast in Powell River, B.C.

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Just a local family out for a walk.

That’s what wildlife enthusiast Wayne Obermeyer figures he captured after one of his trail cameras caught five cougars wandering through the woods together near Powell River, B.C., earlier this month.

The predator cats are known to be solitary animals, and Obermeyer, who has been capturing animals on trail cameras for 15 years, said the cat quintet — which he believes to be a mother and four kittens — was something he had never seen before.

“I thought people would enjoy seeing the video, so I posted it publicly,” said Obermeyer, speaking Tuesday on CBC’s On The Island.

Watch | Five cougars prowl and play past a trail camera:

Five cougars caught on trail camera near Powell River, B.C.

Wayne Obermeyer has filmed wildlife for 15 years and this is his first cat quintet.

The video was shot at 8:20 p.m. on July 17, about 16 kilometres outside of Powell River on a logging road. One cougar appears to be leading as the others trail behind, wrestling and playing with each other. 

Cougars can have anywhere from one to six kittens that will stay with their mother until they are 11 to 18 months old, according to WildSafeBC.

“I imagine they’re going to be kicked out of the house pretty soon,” said Obermeyer.

He said he has three trail cameras that he checks every two to three weeks, and while he has seen a lot of bears and bobcats over the years, cougar sightings have been few and far between. This year, he said, has been an exception.

On The Island6:38How many cougars can you catch in one picture? For one Powell River man, the answer is five.

Kathryn Marlow spoke with Wayne Obermeyer, a Powell River based wildlife photographer, who captured an image of a group of five cougars.

“This year has been quite prolific for cougars, actually, I have seen quite a few cougars on my trail cameras,” said Obermeyer. “These cats are around everywhere.”

He thinks this is likely because logging has created patches of new vegetation that attract deer and elk and, in turn, the cats that prey on them.

Siobhan Darlington, leader of the Southern B.C. Cougar Project at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan campus said Obermeyer’s footage does appear to show a mature female with four subadult cougars that look at least one year old.

Darlington, in an email, said cougars have less than a 50 per cent chance of surviving until 18 months.

“It’s great to see a litter survive to this age,” wrote Darlington.

Cougars are the largest wild cat in the county and are widely distributed across British Columbia. They can sprint up to 70 kilometres an hour, travel more than 50 kilometres daily, and grow up to three metres long. According to Sierra Club B.C., males can weigh up to 65 kilograms and females up to 45.

Cougars are formidable predators, and while they will try to avoid encountering people by moving around more at dawn and dusk, people should always be prepared when traipsing around in cougar territory. 

The B.C.Conservation Officer Service advises that if you encounter a cougar, never turn your back on the cat and run. Pick up children, make yourself look as large as possible and keep the animal in front of you at all times.

Arm yourself with anything that can be used as a weapon (sticks, rocks, bear spray) and if the cougar shows interest in you, act aggressively by baring your teeth, maintaining eye contact and making noise. The idea is to convince the cougar that you are a threat. 

If you believe a cougar poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, contact the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277 (RAPP).

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