Elk Refuge photos capture tense standoff between mountain lions, coyotes

A young mountain lion clings to a rail fence in the National Elk Refuge bordering Grand Teton National Park as coyotes look on and wait. (Lori Iverson/USFWS-click to enlarge)

A young mountain lion clings to a rail fence in the National Elk Refuge bordering Grand Teton National Park as coyotes look on and wait. (Lori Iverson/USFWS-click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

In a Wyoming wildlife version of dogs vs. cats, a series of photos of two young mountain lions seeking refuge from five coyotes has been attracting plenty of attention after being shared online last week by National Elk Refuge staff members.

The photos taken by Lori Iverson, an outreach and visitor services specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, show a tense standoff, as the two juvenile mountain lions nervously crouch atop a rail fence. Coyotes can be seen in some of the photos watching anxiously.

The refuge, located between Jackson, Wyo. and Grand Teton National Park, is a preserve of nearly 25,000 acres where more than 7,500 elk gather in a typical winter. The refuge was established a century ago in an attempt to preserve the dwindling numbers of a once much larger elk herd that suffered in Wyoming’s harsh winters and had trouble migrating south as the town of Jackson expanded.

But as shown by Iverson’s photos, the refuge can also host a wide array of other wildlife, ranging from birds to predators, including coyotes and mountain lions.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Facebook page, where the photos were posted, the mountain lions (also known as cougars or pumas) were cornered just before dusk. The standoff lasted for more than an hour, as the mountain lions moved along the fence to evade the five coyotes.

It was not known when the pictures were first posted how the stalemate finally played out, creating a social media cliffhanger.

After widespread attention—including an overwhelming online cheering section that was pulling for the mountain lions over the coyotes—agency staffers later reported that the mountain lions were spotted the following day and appeared to be just fine.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

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View the photos on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Flickr stream or on the agency’s Facebook page.

2 thoughts on “Elk Refuge photos capture tense standoff between mountain lions, coyotes

  1. Nice job Lori, great pictures. Looking forward to talking with you about this incident next time I am in your office.
    Glad to hear the 2 young cats were seen the next day. These seem to be about the size as the three cubs with Mama on the Refuge a few years back.