The scintillating, yet brutal, attack took place in a nature reserve in southeast Russia in the small region of Lazovsky and was captured on video by zoologists.
The golden eagle in question picked out the oblivious Sika deer before piercing its deadly claws into the deer’s body and then flying off with its carcass. The deer’s dead body was found close by but only a few bones were left over.
The zoologists who captured the attack believe that this is the first time such a death has been photographed. In the past, golden eagles have been caught swooping down and attacking animals as varied as young bears and coyotes.
The incident is believed to have taken place in 2011 while researchers were actually looking to capture footage of the Siberian tiger, which is endangered.
However, they only came to light in September’s edition of Journal of Raptor Research. Linda Kerley, who works with the Zoological Society of London, originally captured the video as she complete a routine equipment check.
Her and her team were shocked by the grizzly images and then raced over to see if there was any more evidence of the murder. They then found its body just yards away from where the eagle had tried to take off with the deer.
Kerley remarked of the incident, “It’s the first time I’ve seen anything like it. It’s rare for golden eagles to snatch up deer. 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.”
She then added, “There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and the just stopped and died.”
Kerley continued, “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. I’ve been assessing deer causes of death in Russia for 18 years, this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this.”
You can check out a picture of its body below:
[Image via JSL/Barcroft Media]