Hunter’s trail camera picks up some amazing photos of cougars in Western Montana mountains

Ravalli Republic publishes photos of 4-member cougar family in Sapphire Mountains-

The Sapphire Mountains are the range on the east side of the Bitterroot Valley.  Outside of the immediate area the mountains on the west of the Valley, the Bitterroot Mountains, are better known.  The Sapphires are much more gentle and have a lot of wildlife.

Here is the link to the newspaper and the photos.






  1. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Remote cameras are slowly providing glimpses into the secretive life of the Mountain Panther ( they are not Lions ).

    Really Interesting photos . Especially the one of the spike Elk gawking at the four feral horses . Popular pub, that waterhole…

    Around the Cody WY backcountry , it’s rare for a ” lost” horse to survive for long in the rugged Absaroka mountains , but it happens. Most end up fate unknown , others in a bear belly, maybe even some wolf fare these days. But a few will survive and even keep their pads and pack saddle for an entire winter as was the case a couple years ago… two horses lost in autumn spotted in April from an airplane still wearing sawbucks, and retrieved. If only they could talk and tell their story.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      Back from a hike late this afternoon.

      Even more common are livestock left behind when they are driven off the grazing allotment for winter.

      Regarding my hike today, I found one steer all alone, 2 weeks after the rest of the herd were removed. First major snowstorm may begin tomorrow. They rarely survive Idaho or Wyoming winters. The oversight is often counted not as an overlooked cow or sheep, but as a predator loss.

      1. Salle Avatar

        ..and the rationale would be, of course that’s what happened to it/them. What else could it be?

  2. Salle Avatar

    I think the pictures are amazing. It’s interesting to see the elk looking at the horses and they back at him. Wonder what happened after that. That picture brings back a memory of about eight or so years ago… I was camping at the primitive Shadow Mtn. campground north of Moose, WY. and was visited by a group of feral horses three mornings in a row. They weren’t aggressive and one wore a halter with a leader. Some fellow campers and I decided to try and locate someone of authority to see if they were recently lost or something. I was able to approach the one with the halter and sort of tie it to a tree hoping to keep them in the area while waiting to see if anyone was going to come and see about them. That didn’t last long and the tethered horse slipped out of the loose wrap I made and they were off toward the higher elevations not to be seen again. Nobody came to check it out even though several rangers passed through.

    The cats, that’s also a great couple of pictures, one rarely sees one of these elusive beings let alone four at once. A photo of high value in my thinking. All I could do when I saw them was to exclaim, “ktties!” I love cats, all of them and even though these could pose a threat if I were standing right there, they are mostly all the same in the way they interact with each other, wild or domestic. Those two images really made my day.

    1. Salle Avatar

      And thanks to Drew Shearer (who owns and placed the camera) and the Ravalli Republic (the newpaper) for making these pictures available!

  3. Leslie Avatar

    Those are amazing–four cats. I’ve been catching a young female cougar all summer on my Reconex set up by my spring in the forest. She saw the infared light, walked over to it, then peed right in front of it. I had to laugh

    1. CodyCoyote Avatar

      The remote cameras they set up in the Himalayas and Karakorams finally got some very intimate footage of the elusive Snow Leopards and their lifestyle.

      They , too, marked out the camera sites by peeing…enough of the man scent remained behind when the guy went up to change batteries and memory cards I guess.

      There should be some videos online of that Snow Leopard research. I’ll look.

      1. CodyCoyote Avatar

        “Snow Leopard: Beyond the Myth ” BBC short narrated by David Attenborough done during the fabulous ” Planet Earth” series. DOne on the China-Pakistani border in 2004. 10 minutes. Took a year to film the mystical cats.

        1. Salle Avatar

          That’s awesome! Thanks, Cody Coyote! *sigh* 🙂

  4. Craig Avatar

    To bad they didn’t have trail cams in the back yard off the Greenbelt in boise!

    1. Salle Avatar

      Perhaps it’s just as well that they didn’t.

      1. Craig Avatar

        Why not? Shows our Predator’s true instincts and what they do. If people want to live in Cougar territory, they should learn how to live with them or Bears or Wolves.

        1. Salle Avatar

          Problem is some of the interpretations and the broadcast of some of the less realistic views that demonize natural processes by filtering them through unrealistic lenses.

          1. Craig Avatar

            Death is part of life, if you can’t handle it?????????????????? If you live in Preadator country you should educate oneself on your surroundings and chances of deadly encounters!

            1. Salle Avatar

              It’s not me, I live in a place where bear have sniffed around my front door, going out at night and even some days is a dicey prospect where I am especially because it’s hyperphagia time for bears. I see predators on a regular basis and recognize that death is part of the life cycle and I accept it because that’s the way it is and I live in a wild place. I was referring to the perceptions that others may have of the imagery and the not-so-realistic interpretations that they might employ to make it out to be something evil. Such re-imaginings, if you will, create fear and loathing of the natural world… look at what it’s done for the image of numerous predators we discuss here regarding public perceptions and on the political stage.

            2. Mark L Avatar
              Mark L

              Nicely said, Salle.

  5. Louise Kane Avatar

    Amazing video of the snow leopards

  6. Louise Kane Avatar

    Cody, Salle et al
    this was great show about a Korean man who spent five years of his life watching and filming tigers in Siberia sometimes living for months in small dugouts in minus 30 degree weather eating rice and nuts. Its just astounding.
    The tigers are beautiful, and as could be predicted they are being poached.

  7. CodyCoyote Avatar

    The family of four COugars at the waterhole in the Sapphires isn’t even the grand Prize winner. Back over across the river near Darby , a guy video no less than SIX different Cougars feeding on an elk carcass 75 yards from his house. They ate the whole thing in three days.

    I’d love to see something like that as well…

    1. elk275 Avatar

      I just came from the coffee shop and was going to post that link. Six mountain lions (six sets of eyes) eating an elk 75 yards from his house.

      What does one call six mountian lions together, a herd, flock, group or a pride?

      1. Salle Avatar

        I guess it would be called a “pride” as with other lions but much of the “fact sheets” that I can find claim that only females and their kittens represent groups. Six is a pretty large gathering as the same fact sheet materials claim that litters are normally two to four in number.

        I can only see three in the video and a possible fourth in the photo. Maybe those light spots are not all cats’ eyes.

        Comments from the camera owner:
        Didn’t know they were around… surprise!

        About not liking them in his back yard… one question; so why do you live there in a wildlife interface zone? They come with the territory, not happy about it? Best solution is to move to some place where they don’t exist anymore.

        I think it’s a cool video.

        1. ma'iingan Avatar

          “Six is a pretty large gathering as the same fact sheet materials claim that litters are normally two to four in number.”

          Female puma will tolerate territorial overlap – daughters’ territories typically will overlap a bit with their mothers, so the overlapping territories form something of a rosette pattern.

      2. bret Avatar

        a few years ago a trail cam photo from central Washington was making the rounds that had 7 or 8 cougars in it, cool photo wish I still had it.

  8. HAL 9000 Avatar
    HAL 9000

    What… no Bigfoot photos?

    1. rork Avatar

      Too smart. They even pick up every hair they shed.

      1. Mal Adapted Avatar
        Mal Adapted

        Bigfoots (Bigfeet?) actually exist, but they have tiny feet. They all carry big, carved wooden feet wherever they go, to make those big footprints. Wouldn’t you?

  9. trail camera, outdoor camera Avatar

    Hi, very nice post! I watch the video, very stunning and afraid of tigers. But still exciting! I like it. Keep it up.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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