Eagle Vs. Deer: Extremely Rare Attack Captured On Camera In Russia
A camera trap set up at the Lazovsky State Nature Reserve in the Russian Far East captured a rare sight recently: a golden eagle swooping down and attacking a sika deer. The eagle versus deer attack was so rare that a paper has been published in the Journal of Raptor Research focusing on just this one attack, calling it the first such attack ever documented in Russia.
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"I saw the deer carcass first as I approached the trap on a routine check to switch out memory cards and change batteries, but something felt wrong about it," said Linda Kerley of the Zoological Society of London, a co-author of the paper. "There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died. ... It was only after we got back to camp that I checked the images from the camera and pieced everything together. I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
Though Kerley has been studying Siberian tigers (also known as Amur tigers) at the reserve for six years, and deer deaths in Russia for 18 years, this is the first time she's seen such brazen eagle predation. And while there is no evidence that golden eagles regularly attack deer, paper co-author Jonathan Slaght of the Wildlife Conservation Society said that eagles have been documented over the years attack a number of large animals.
"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," Slaght said. "In this case I think Linda just got really lucky and was able to document a very rare, opportunistic predation event."
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, golden eagles attack large animals by swooping down with their talons out. One foot hits the back of the head or neck, with the other foot striking near the shoulder. An eagle will then clench its talons so powerfully that the hallux, or back talon, can penetrate its prey's shoulder. One Alaska Fish and Game biologist has reportedly even seen a golden eagle's talons go so deep as to pierce its prey's lung.
A YouTube search of "eagle vs." confirms that an eagle can pretty much take on any large animal.
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