Close Encounters Man vs. Nature

Dramatic standoff between young mountain lions and coyotes captured in photos

Encounter was at dusk; both cats were spotted again the next day

A tense standoff between two young mountain lions and five menacing coyotes was captured in a series of stunning photographs at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming.

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As viewers can see, it was an unenviable situation for the juvenile mountain lions, which took refuge Thursday afternoon on a buck-and-rail fence before ultimately making their escape. (The escape occurred after dusk and was not witnessed, but the two cats were spotted again by refuge staff on Friday morning.)

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The scene was captured by Lori Iverson, an outdoor recreational planner for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. She was on site long enough to watch one of the cats scramble down the fence and run for cover.

This description was posted on the USFWS Flickr page: “The encounter ended with one of the mountain lions slowly making its way down the fence, occasionally dropping to the ground where it was met by lunges and yips by the coyotes. The mountain lion responded with hisses and yowls.

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“Eventually, it ran across the creek on the fence and took off running with the five coyotes in pursuit. The second mountain lion was still hunkered down in the grass under the fence when the Outdoor Recreation Planner called it a night.”

The USFWS has posted twice about the encounter on its Mountain-Prairie Facebook page.

The first post, on Friday, was shared nearly 12,000 times. It reads: “An amazing scene played out yesterday, just before dusk at Wyoming’s National Elk Refuge. In a spectacular standoff that lasted for more than an hour, five coyotes cornered two juvenile mountain lions, who took up refuge high on a buck-and-rail fence.”

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On Saturday was this update: “Exciting News! Late yesterday, National Elk Refuge staff spotted both mountain lion cubs, alive and well.”

It’s not clear where the mother mountain lion might have been during this spectacular confrontation.