The elk realize danger is close just a hair too late.
The mountain lion is perhaps the most secretive animal in North America. Stealthy and cunning, these big cats strike fast and hit their prey hard when the timing is right. Most people know one of their favorite prey items is deer, but they sometimes take on much larger animals.
We knew that mountain lions sometimes hunt elk, but this behavior seems to be a little more rare. Probably due to the larger size of the animal. And it is even rarer to capture this behavior on camera. Fortunately, a trail camera in Utah managed to capture an amazing piece of footage that proves cougars do prey on elk.
As a bonus, this camera has sound so we can hear what is going on. One of the lead cows in this group senses that something is amiss and attempts to sound the alarm. Unfortunately for one elk calf, the warning comes a hair too late, and the big cat chases the calf through the top of the frame. Watch carefully, it happens fast!
This is one of the coolest pieces of trail camera footage we have ever seen here at Wide Open Spaces. This type of incident probably plays out every day in nature, but humans rarely get to see it happen. The cougar probably knew bringing down one of the adults would be dangerous and near impossible. However, a calf that isn't wise in the ways of the forest makes an easier target. That big cat knew exactly what it was doing in targeting the youngsters.
According to the video's description, the calf was not successful in getting away. The owner of the trail camera found the elk's remains only about 15 feet outside the frame of the camera. This footage was captured in Northern Utah in the state's Wasatch Range of mountains.
This may be difficult to watch, but this is the way things go in nature. Animals that are not fit enough or fast enough end up as part of the food chain. While one calf was unlucky, two others were in the area when this incident happened. Those youngster's chances of survival probably just went up as the attack will serve as a learning experience on how to avoid predators in the future.