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Thursday, March 6, 2014

A mountain lion eats an elk

We live in glorious and beautiful mountains that we share with a variety of wildlife. Some are big predators who can hurt our dogs so we work hard at training them so that we can keep them as safe as possible.

More than a month ago, a mountain lion killed a young bull elk in our forest. When I first saw the carcass, I thought that the lion was finished with it and had moved on. The carcass was gutted. Meat only remained on the neck, head, and legs. On the first night and following morning, coyotes feasted on it, seemingly proving me right that the mountain lion had moved onto more hunting.
It turned out that I was very wrong. A mountain lion arrived on the scene soon thereafter. I don't know whether it was the same lion as originally killed the elk.
My trail camera emits a soft red glow when taking photos, and the lion noticed it right away. These two photos are in rapid succession.

After checking out the camera, the mountain lion started working on the area of the carcass with the most meat remaining - the head and neck.
He'd occasionally stop and look at the camera.
I think that after the photo above, he decided to move the carcass away from the crazy glowing camera. First, he pulled backward.
Then he gazed into the distance, perhaps planning his route.
More pulling...
A hard look at the camera again...
Look at that strong body he has...
Finally, he got serious, and he picked up the head.
...only to drop it again, and then try to dislodge the carcass from its spot with his front limb. I bet the carcass was frozen to the ground.
More pulling...
And then he passed directly in front of the camera, dragging the carcass. This is the lion's fur.
Almost an hour later, the mountain lion returned to where the carcass had been before he moved it and licked his chops for the camera.
Then, a long time later, a bobcat investigated the spot where the carcass had been. Doesn't he look tiny compared to that mountain lion?
That whole scene explains why our Duo doesn't wander around by themselves and why we expend energy training them. Of course, nothing can totally protect them from ferocious predators but we try to strike a balance between giving them a fun life and keeping them safe.
Fortunately, I wrote this post a while ago... because, with my new medicines and lots of rest, I've managed to evade the evil migraine monster for two days (so I'm taking it easy again today, trying to keep it at bay). Thanks for all of your support!


  1. Great story and so good to see you able to return to form.

  2. hallelujah on the migraine escape!

    GREAT set of photos to show this beautiful and powerful feline! the shot where he's looking at the camera with one ear cocked is hilarious - you can see his disdain. :)

  3. Fantastic to see a series to document the numerous predators benefitting from a single elk killed. I really enjoyed this.

  4. Fascinating story and so great to hear about the respite from the evil migraines.

  5. Glad to hear you are better.

    I love the photographs. It is so great to see such gorgeous animals doing what they are born to do.

  6. Wow that's so awesome to be able to see these things through your cameras.

  7. Wow! That's a lot of power to be able to move the carcass like that! I'm glad you're taking it easy and that it's helping!

  8. what a powerful post. I am trying to figure the size of the elk. No matter how you look at it, that is a big cat. I didnt see a colar on it either. I know they like to track themn but I also love to see the ones who are truly living free. So glad your headaches are backing off.

  9. Wow! What spectacular pictures of the lion --- and that he was so intelligent to be watching that red light. And, of course, the pictures of the snuggling pups are a heartwarming ending.

    I'm glad you're taking it easy and hope you're getting better.

  10. this is an amazing series of photos that your camera captured, great to see. as are your adorable pups.

    sorry to hear that you suffer from migraines. yet glad to hear your meds are helping.

  11. What awesome photos but we do have to say that we love the last one best!
    We hope your migraine is on the run, KB!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  12. What great pictures! The mountain lion just wanted a bit of privacy :-)

    For size....your labs are the mountain lion, my corgis are the bobcat. LOL!

  13. So glad you've been having a respite from migraines - I hope you remain headache-free!!

    That series of images is so interesting. I love the details...the ears back in concentration when the lion was working to shift the head, the elbow back when trying to move the rib cage with a paw - that paw!! - and even seeing that the lion had shifted it's weight as it stood, watching the camera. Magical vision, these cameras provide! Thanks so much for posting so many images for us all to enjoy and admire.
    One of my goats, Lily, figured out the goatcam in the barn right away. I soon had a lot of distorted IR pictures (it's an inexpensive wide-angle camera, and I have to mount it high out of the goats' reach) of a staring white goat with enormous glowing eyes. One of the funniest things to see is when a deer mouse visits the barn at night...I can watch two big glowing eyes and a tiny black tail zipping around :)
    Have a great day, KB!

  14. Dat is one big and strong kitteh fur sure and we is most impressed by him. Sendin' boxer puppy prayers to help keep your migraines away too.

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae and Max

    PeeS mom is still lookin' at dat sweet foto of Shyla and R...*sigh*

  15. That was a great story and pictures! We were totally fascinated by the mountain lion noticing your trail camera and moving the carcass to a safer place (for him.)

    Glad that migraine took the high road and left!!

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  16. Oh, wow! I love those lion shots.

    Neat stuff.


  17. Oh wow! Your photos are always pawesome, but those were just especially cool!

  18. Oh wow! Your photos are always pawesome, but those were just especially cool!

  19. You can tell that mountain lion feels like it is being watched!

  20. What exciting photos. Guess Mountain Lions don't like having photos taken while they're eating, either....

    XXXOOO Bella & Roxy

  21. Glad the headaches are better! Amazing that those cats can bring down such a large animal!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  22. That is an amazing series of photos!
    I'm rather partial to the last one... :)
    Glad your migraine situation is improving!

  23. Such wonderful news about your migraines being at bay & you having a bit of peace from them, dear friend. I'm so glad! Thank you for taking the time to post as well. The wonders of nature!! Everything that breathes & has a heartbeat also has a stomach that growls from hunger & deserves to eat. God made life to be such as this. I give thanks for the elk that provided the nourishment for so many others to live. I believe the spirit of the elk lives on, even tho his body no longer does.

    Take good care, KB!! I think of you daily & send good, happy, spring wishes!!


  24. Wow!! This is my all-time favorite of your trail camera posts.

  25. It's unreal that you caught that footage on film!


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