Trail camera captures startling predator sailing through air in Colorado. What is it?


Mountain lions can run 45 miles per hour and jump 19 feet straight up in the air, experts say.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife photo

A predator that is not supposed to fly was caught sailing through the air by a Colorado trail camera, and some on social media are calling it “absolutely terrifying.”

The blur looks equal parts dog and deer, but it is 100% mountain lion, according to a Facebook post by the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife.

“A fun tidbit,” the department wrote, “mountain lions can run 45 miles per hour and jump 19 feet straight up in the air.”

The location of the photo was not provided, but it was shared as part of a state report on the abilities of mountain lions and their expansion into urban areas.

“They’re an amazing animal, incredible strong, incredibly fast,” state wildlife researcher Mat Alldredge said in a Feb. 21 Colorado Outdoors podcast. “I’ve actually sat on a hillside where I know the lion was (somewhere) on the hillside 100 yards in front of me, and I can’t see it. And I know the lion saw me. So they are incredibly elusive.”

Mountain lions are also known to prey on animals “significantly bigger than them,” including elk, moose and mule deer, he said.

Encounters with humans have been on the rise, but the predators are inclined to hide when possible, Alldredge said. However, that was apparently little consolation to many of the 1,500-plus people who have reacted and commented to the state’s Facebook photo.

“Fun fact before you get killed,” Efren Alvarado Jr. posted on Facebook.

“Is it a fun tidbit, or is it ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING?!” Jill Seeger Salahub wrote.

“I’m afraid to set my foot on the trails now,” Natty Pillai said.

The state’s post was followed the next day with a video of mountain lions straying into urban areas, including walking on patios, entering businesses through the door and sleeping in flower beds outside of buildings.

Mountain lion attacks on people are considered rare, but there have been at least 23 attacks in Colorado since 1990, including three that were fatal, the state says. In March 2020, a mountain lion attacked and injured two people in a Larimer County RV park and it later tested positive for rabies, the state said.

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Mark Price has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1991, covering beats including schools, crime, immigration, LGBTQ issues, homelessness and nonprofits. He graduated from the University of Memphis with majors in journalism and art history, and a minor in geology.


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