Mountain Lion Stalks, Takes Down Bighorn Ram on Trail Cam

by Matthew Memrick

A Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep traveled over 180 miles from Arizona, only to become a mountain lion’s meal in a battle caught in photos recently.

The New Mexico Game and Fish Department told the sheep’s sad tale and posted a few trail cam photos on Facebook. Field and Stream reported on the sheep and its trail cam battle.

After a 2019 sighting, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep “vanished into thin air” around Cookes Peak in southwest Arizona. But White Sands Missile Range staff found it in the May 15, 2020 trail cam footage.

Ram’s Journey Starts With Single Tagging

According to the Facebook post, the ram was captured and tagged at Cookes Peak in New Mexico. But soon after, it fell off the radar.

The department noted that while desert bighorn sheep are plentiful at that spot, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are not.

According to the National Bighorn Center, Desert Bighorn Sheep are generally smaller and lighter colored than their cousins, the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. The Desert Bighorns also have slightly longer ears and tails.

But it appeared in the May camera footage at White Sands Missile Range. The bighorn is OK before the mountain lion stalks it in a few photos.

At one point, it looks like it will make a clean getaway before the big cat attacks. Then, the ram moves away from the lion, still thinking it is alone in the wilderness. The series of photos takes place in less than 15 minutes.

After the New Mexico wildlife officials took pictures of the ram’s tags, they found out more about the animal through wildlife biologists and the 2019 discovery.

“Game and Fish biologists used the ear tag to track the bighorn back to Arizona Game and Fish, and its last known location near the Morenci Mine,” the agency said in its social media post.  

Social Media Amazed By Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

A few folks posted on the agency’s Facebook post and were amazed at the photos.

One woman, Ruth Phillips, said, “Both are such beautiful, majestic animals. What a shame one must die so the other can live. But isn’t that the way of nature in the wild?!!” 

Don Brandinelli agreed with Phillips, calling the photos “fascinating” but also a “tough break for the sheep but everybody has to eat, I guess.”

Another man, Johnny Viejo, said that “it’s weird because with the time stamps are only 2 minutes apart but somehow the ram is closer to the camera, and the cougar is attacking him from behind.”

One photo showed one of the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep’s tags with “Do Not Consume” on it. The jokesters came out for that one. 

One man, Patrick Holman, said, “I’m kick-starting a Big Cat literacy program immediately. Sarah McLachlan will sing the hook on the commercial.”