Yup, a mountain lion was prowling along the edges of this meadow while the elk were there. I cannot imagine how nerve-racking it must be for elk knowing that predators are waiting for just one of them to make a mistake. I couldn't live like that... but they manage to.
I am guessing that the goal for an elk is to stay in the middle of the herd so that the mountain lion prowling in the nearby forest doesn't choose him/her to attack.
The mountain lions are masters of stealthfulness, and they blend into nature so perfectly. I bet that I could have ridden my bike right past this guy without spotting him.
He spent a long time at this site - a spot where the mounds of pine needles show how often lions have scraped there to mark territory. He even had the Flehmen Response to the scents of other lions. That enhances his sampling of the odors.
I believe that this mountain lion was the male in the mating pair that my trail cam captured. I'm basing that on his color markings so I can't be absolutely certain.
Enjoy the video. All of the clips show mountain lions prowling along edges of meadows containing the elk herd.