Routt County teens witness mountain lion killing elk, capture it on video

Steamboat Pilot & Today

Four high school students happened upon a mountain lion attacking an elk on Feb. 9 in Routt County, and one of them caught it on video.

“Check out this video sent in by RMEF follower Hoyt Raffay outside of Oak Creek, Colorado,” the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wrote in a video caption posted Feb. 10 on Facebook.

The foundation’s post had more than 1,300 shares by 3 p.m. the next day. Almost 100 people had commented on the video as well. While some were rooting for the elk, others hoped the mountain lion got its meal.

Reached by the newspaper, Raffay said he submitted the video to the foundation, but the clip was actually captured by his 15-year-old friend Tanner Cole-Wheeler, who was riding in a pickup truck driven by 18-year-old Sophia Benjamin when they saw the attack.

Benjamin said the group of four students from Soroco High School was headed from the Stagecoach area to Oak Creek on County Road 14 at about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when they saw something coming off the hill.

Soon, they realized they were witnessing a mountain lion attacking an elk. They watched the attack for about 15 minutes until they were pretty sure the elk was dead.

“I’ve seen elk and other wildlife, but I’ve never seen a mountain lion before, so it was a very cool and a rare thing to see,” Benjamin said.

For Cole-Wheeler, who’s seen mountain lions before, it was a lesson in the cycle of life, but for Benjamin, it made her reflect on living so close to wildlife.

In Routt County, wildlife is a common sight, so much so that it’s easy to take some of those for granted, Benjamin explained. However, to see a mountain lion take down an elk like the group did this week, it really made the 18-year-old appreciate being so close to wildlife again.


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