Eagle and a deer - level 3

Eagle and a deer - level 3

08-10-2013 06:00

Eagle attacks on large mammals are not really uncommon, but it is quite rare for one to be caught on camera.

The Zoological Society of London released these pictures last week, showing a massive golden eagle digging its claws into a sika deer’s back, and the photos have become an online sensation. The incident happened in Russia’s far east, and the young sika deer was actually killed in the attack. The proof came in the form of a fourth photo, snapped by remote cameras two weeks later. The deer’s mangled carcass was spotted by a researcher as she approached the camera trap to switch the memory cards and change the batteries.

The fact that there were no tracks leading up to the dead deer prompted scientists to check the cameras, and this was what they saw. It was complete chance, as the traps were originally set up in the Lazovsky Nature Reserve to monitor Siberian tigers.

With potential wingspans of more than two meters, golden eagles have a long history of attacking smaller birds, mammals and snakes, and they have been known to target larger animals too. In some nations – such as Kazakhstan – humans use the exotic creatures for hunting deer, antelope and even wolves. It's an ancient tradition that requires lots of patience, energy and skill, and has been a popular sport for hundreds of years. However, golden eagles do not often attack deer in the wild, which adds even more scientific value to the photos published last week.

Difficult words: massive (big), claw (animal's big "nail"), sensation (a lot of people watch it and like it), snap (take), remote (the camera takes pictures without people), mangled (destroyed), carcass (dead body), wingspan (size of the wings).

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