An eagle attacking and killing a deer in Siberia was captured by camera trap footage, surprising researchers and putting on display the alpha bird’s prowess to take down large prey, reports Fox News on Sept. 24.
Researcher Linda Kerley of the Zoological Society of London was working at the Lazovsky Nature Reserve in Russia's Primorsky Territory, when she discovered a stripped down deer carcass, with little left but bone and hide. The carcass was initially a mystery, since there were no predator tracks, and no evidence that the deer had been running for some time before being brought down.
Deer tracks showed the animal had been running only a few meters, "and then stopped and died," Kerley said.
The struggle took place just a few yards from one of the preserve’s camera trap stations, and images taken every few seconds showed what happened: A golden eagle had swooped down and clung to the deer’s back, bringing the young sika doe down in a matter of seconds.
"I couldn’t believe what I was seeing," Kerley said. "I've been assessing deer causes of death in Russia for 18 years—this is the first time I've seen anything like this."
An adult golden eagle can grow to 12 pounds, and have an enormous wingspan of up to eight feet. At times, an eagle will attack prey that is larger, but such attacks are rare.
"The scientific literature is full of references to golden eagle attacks on different animals from around the world, from things as small as rabbits, their regular prey, to coyote and deer, and even one record in 2004 of an eagle taking a brown bear cub," says Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society.
"In this case I think Linda just got really lucky and was able to document a very rare, opportunistic predation event," Slaght added.