WATCH: Mountain Lion Caught in Rare Trail Cam Footage Devouring Mule Deer

by Jon D. B.

“Mountain lions are amazing creatures.” While the act itself is a normalcy of nature, this footage is an exceptionally rare glimpse into the life of a mountain lion.

Thanks to the ever-amazing Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), conservationists and wildlife lovers the world over now have front-row seats to the feeding habits of the North American mountain lion.

CPW Officials recently recorded the rare footage of the collared cougar eating a cached mule deer. The encounter itself sees the crossover of two separate wildlife-monitoring projects, as Field & Stream notes over the weekend.

“Mountain lions are amazing creatures in terms of what they are able to do… Taking down animals that are three or four times their size, and at the same time staying largely undetected by people,” says CPW’s Carnivore and Furbearer Program Manager, Mark Vieira, of the encounter, which you can view below:

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials observed a compelling intersection of two wildlife projects at the end of July 2021 when a deer affixed with a GPS satellite collar gave off a mortality signal just east of the Continental Divide.

Jason Clay

The rare footage itself came to be after a state wildlife officer intentionally placed a trail cam to capture a possible feeding. It began in late July, after CPW was alerted to the death of a 2020 catalogued mule deer via collar. Immediately after, the team got a ping from a mountain lion (collared in early 2021). The mule deer was collared to study her species’ winter mortality and survival rates. The cougar, however, was catalogued to study the species’ population density.

Colorado Mountain Lion

Both Colorado conservation projects came to an incredible head once the wildlife officer hiked to the muley’s carcass location. A brave thing to do, given the mountain lion would still be in the area. A trail cam’s placement then set the stage. It would capture the footage you see above: a truly rare look into the feeding habits of these big cats.

“Better understanding species interactions, in particular predator and prey, is a huge benefit that has resulted from GPS technology,” adds Bryan Lamont, CPW Terrestrial Biologist, in a press release. “In this case, both of these animals had traveled many miles away from where they had originally been caught and collared to only randomly cross paths.”

Lamont says that “When determining female mule deer survival rates… This kind of information can help managers more accurately calculate the exact causes of mortality.”

The footage shows how invaluable technology can be in studying all forms of conservation. Indeed, the combination of tracking collars and trail cams gives us this remarkable convergence. It’s one that humans would otherwise be unable to obtain, as mountain lions are lethal predators. They are widespread, yes, but elusive – and studying them up close is neither safe nor effective.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife says their state currently houses nearly half-a-million mule deer. By comparison, Colorado is home to around 4,000 mature mountain lions. With these numbers, the mule deer understandably makes up the majority of a cougar’s diet. CPW says a mature lion will eat “one deer per week on average.”

And now we know exactly what that looks like.