British Columbia

Secret life of cougars captured by Sooke man's wildlife cameras

When Paul Homer was putting up a wildlife camera on his Sooke, B.C., property years ago he captured images of a mouse. After that, he was hooked.

Paul Homer has 13 cameras on his property that catch images of cougars, bears and more

This cougar was caught on one of Paul Homer's cameras on his Sooke, B.C., property. (Paul Homer/Facebook)

When Paul Homer was putting up a wildlife camera on his Sooke, B.C., property years ago, he captured images of a mouse.

After that, he was hooked.

Since then he's installed 13 cameras all over his 36-acre (14.5-hectare) property. He has surreptitiously captured intimate images of everything from a house cat to a huffing bear.

"We had no idea what was around us," said the fisherman-turned-school custodian, whose finds are posted on a Facebook account called Paul's Game Cam Pics.

Paul Homer believes this is a female and her partially grown offspring. They appear interested in an old deer carcass. (Paul Homer/Facebook)

Recently his camera caught two cougars pacing around the skeletal remains of a deer on one of the many cameras he has on stakes and in trees.

A friend suggested he point a camera at the carcass — where there were clear scratches from a cougar on the ground. That turned up gold.

Paul Homer has become a sort of animal paparazzi photographer. He's set up 13 cameras on his Sooke property. (Paul Homer )

Homer checked the camera last week and found images of an adult mountain lion and what appears to be a cub.

The intimate portraits of the sinewy forest cats as they circle skeletal remains of a deer, have elicited hundreds of responses.

"The thing with these cameras ... it's like Christmas. You go out not expecting much … then you download. It's very exciting. I love seeing stuff like that," he said.

Some cameras point at trails or are trained at a well-travelled log bridge over a swamp. 

Absentee animal paparazzi 

The images they capture reveal the secret comings and goings of Sooke wildlife.

"Yeah, [it's] a total addiction. It got bad there for a while," said Homer, 49.

He works a later shift, but gets up early to check his wildlife paparazzi cameras, sometimes daily.

Over the years his cameras have caught bears wandering the paths, countless deer browsing and even a marten on the night or "stealth cam."

This Sooke bear was caught having a dip in a swampy part of a property near Sooke Hills, on one of the owner's 13 game cameras. (Paul Homer/Facebook)

Homer and his mother bought the property that backs onto Sooke Hills back in 1995, and since then protected 25 acres of it with a covenant that only allows trail maintenance and removal of invasive species.

Many animals use a bridge across the creek he and his mother use to water the garden, and the bears use a swamp to wallow in the hot summer.

Over the years he's been amazed by how many species share his land, and awed by the size of one bear.

Bears are common travellers on this Sooke log bridge. (Paul's Game Cam pics)

"I called him 'Big Rig,'" said Homer.

"Friends joke one day they'll run by in a Sasquatch suit," he said.

But Homer is happy to observe the usual suspects.

"I've seen everything from raccoons to pine martens to owls and hawks. Just nice to know you can catch them in the wild doing their thing."

A bear crosses a log bridge that's like a mini-highway for animals on Paul Homer's Sooke property. (Paul Homer)

About the Author

Yvette Brend is a CBC Vancouver journalist. Yvette.Brend@CBC.ca @ybrend