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Monday, December 29, 2014

Predators and Prey All Around Us

The wildlife have been following their winter patterns, with the elk passing through here before big snows to go to lower ground.
Of course, they usually don't just "pass through" without lingering in the meadows to graze a bit.
Their predators, mountain lions, follow. You've seen this photo before. My trail camera took it when the elk herd was nearby. It's very rare for a mountain lion to be moving around in the midst of our trail system near the middle of the day.
You haven't seen the next photos yet, taken by a trail camera in the same general area. I quickly moved a camera to this spot after I saw many mountain lion tracks all over a look-out area where the grazing elk herd can be seen.

Within 24 hours, I had mountain lion photos taken by the newly placed camera. I believe that the photos show a mother mountain lion and a kitten. Here is the mother...
She stopped in front of the camera, with her beautiful long tail pointed toward it.
Then she turned toward the camera, perhaps noticing its soft red glow.
She sniffed the ground in front of it, almost exactly where I'd seen dozens of overlapping mountain lion tracks the previous day. She looked strong, and she had no paraphernalia like collars or ear tags weighing her down! Her belly wasn't bulging, suggesting to me that she was hunting.
After a short sniff, she walked toward the elk herd.
Then, about 40 minutes later, she passed the camera at high speed. The camera triggers within 0.1 seconds of an animal entering its field of view so this lion was moving fast, only letting the camera capture a view of her tail and back leg.
Then, about 5 seconds later, a smaller mountain lion sprinted past the camera going in the same direction as the first one.
My best guess is that this is a mother-kitten pair. However, because I didn't get a great photo of the second lion, it is also possible that it's a pair of adult lions who were fighting for position near the elk herd.

Since all the snow has fallen, the elk herd has passed nearby again, probably heading to lower ground where there's less snow. However, I can't ride my snow bike to the cameras that might have mountain lion photos on them because the snow is still too loose and soft.

In the meantime, we humans and dogs continue to go about our everyday activities. If I didn't have a knowledge of animal tracks and hadn't posted trail cameras in key spots, I'd have no idea that there was so much wildlife activity near us as we play, whether it be in the calm sunshine...
...or the wild and windy weather of recent days!
I'm so glad that our fiercest predators are flourishing despite the ever-increasing presence of humans and their pets. Except for rare cases, our mountain lions stay invisible, not wanting to interact with us. That's the best way for them to survive around unpredictable predators like us humans.


  1. always enjoy your wildlife cam shots (and your more domesticated critters, too.) :)

  2. They are all such amazing animals! Howdy amazing Shyla!

  3. Just love your wildlife shots. I don't think I'd feel that comfortable living that close to them though. Probably because here in Florida wildlife doesn't give a second thought to coming right into your backyard.

  4. Those pictures from the trail cam are so neat!! I bet you can't wait to get to the other trail cameras!! :D

    Shyla looks like she's having a good time, despite the frigid weather!

  5. What pawesome wildlife photos :) Looks Like Shyla is having a great time playing in the snow :) Milo & Jet

  6. Wow KB,, those photos are amazingly gorgeous!

  7. WOWSA!!! I loves that the Elk gave you the raspberry!!! BOL!!! And those Mountain Lions are just FABulous!! The daylight one is amazing!
    Then there is you, beautiful Shyla!! I hopes you are havin' fun in the snow! Sure looks like it! Do some snow zoomies for me, huh?
    Ruby ♥

  8. Great pics. Hopefully the Mountain Lions will continue to flourish and there will be enough space for all.


  9. I'm glad they stay invisible...not sure I would be brave enough to be wandering around with them so close. Very cool shots.

  10. It is amazing to be able to see nature behind the scenes, along with the everyday nature of Shyla (and R)!

  11. You live in such an amazing spot! Love the photos!

  12. I love the color one of the lion - very beautiful!

    Monty and Harlow

  13. We would be watching the trail cameras all the time. So cool
    Lily & Edward

  14. Hi! Great wildlife photos. We don't have many wildlife sightings here but are still hearing the coyotes howling. Enjoy the snow!

  15. Amazing photos! We are hoping we don't blow away here.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  16. It's amazing that without the cameras, the wildlife would just be going about their business with you none the wiser.

  17. Can't wait to see what more your new trail camera location reveals.Thanks as always for sharing.

  18. Oh fantastic stuff! I just love seeing the activity revealed by your trail cameras.


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