Catching footage of a mountain lion attacking its prey has been a dream of Randy Spade for some time. So when he checked his trail camera footage on June 4, he couldn’t help but get excited when he saw a preview image of a mountain lion standing on a deer.
Spade, who is from Whitmore, California, had been monitoring trail camera footage on a family friend’s ranch near Whiskeytown Lake in his home state for about five years when he was finally able to snag an extremely rare video of a mountain lion attacking a deer and dragging it away. He uploaded the video the next day to his YouTube channel, where he has posted hundreds of wildlife videos from the same ranch.
“The deer tripped the camera and got it going and then the mountain lion came around the corner, so it was perfectly framed and timed, which I kind of thought was amazing,” he said.
The video shows the mountain lion sneaking up around a corner behind an unsuspecting deer and rapidly tackling it to the ground, before dragging it off by its neck. (Watch a Florida panther pass within inches of a hiker.)
Videos like this one are seldom captured because mountain lions are generally solitary and avoid people. In December, a security camera caught a mountain lion dragging a deer off of a family’s porch in Hillsborough, California.
More than half of the Golden State is considered prime mountain lion habitat, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that there are between 4,000 and 6,000 lions roaming the state.
Spade said he records videos of two or three mountain lions on the ranch every month, and he has even seen as many as eight in one week.
“Maybe in another five years we might get lucky again,” he said. “I need to start upgrading my cameras and cleaning my lenses more often because you never know when you’re going to get that shot.”