Colorado Man Wakes Up To Find Mountain Lion Feasting on Elk Outside House

A Colorado man has described his amazement after waking up to discover a mountain lion eating an elk on his porch.

Publishing images and a description of his experience on Facebook on January 5, Charles Zelenka revealed he had been lying in bed asleep when he was startled awake by a noise from outside.

He got up and discovered that it came from a mountain lion eating an elk up against the front of his home.

Footage posted by Zelenka showed the predator amid deep snow hunched over the carcass. It then looked up and snarled directly at the camera before moving off into nearby trees.

"Lying in bed sound asleep, a banging noise woke me up," Zelenka wrote. "Turned on the lights, looked out the window and what did I see? A mountain lion killing an elk on my front porch."

He told Outdoor Life that he was woken up at around 2 a.m. local time and went to investigate the sounds. "I was like, Holy crap, there's an elk on my front porch! I could see it kicking its front legs. I was like, What the hell happened? I couldn't figure it out.

"I was just about ready to turn and go out the door, and a mountain lion popped up from underneath this thing. So I grabbed my phone—I'm in my skivvies, I've just gotten out of bed—and start recording."

The odds of people being in direct danger from a mountain lion are very small, Josh Rosenau, a conservation advocate with the Mountain Lion Foundation, told Newsweek.

"Like, comparable to the odds of your being struck by lightning on your birthday," he said.

The Mountain Lion Foundation estimate that there are likely fewer than 30,000 of the animals in the U.S. at present, with the species under threat from habitat loss, hunting and road traffic collisions.

Rosenau said mountain lions are generally fearful of people and want to avoid humans if they can.

Zelenka's experience is one in a recent string of mountain lion encounters in the western U.S. One individual was euthanized after wandering into the lobby of a condo, while another was spotted near a high school in California, prompting a police warning.

One of the reasons more encounters like this seem to be occurring could likely be that they are simply captured more thanks to new technology.

"One thing that has changed recently is that people are more aware of the mountain lions that have always been around," Rosenau said. "Thanks to cell phones and especially things like doorbell cameras, trail cameras, and other motion-activated cameras, we can spot these elusive creatures even as they do their best to avoid people.

"Sometimes, folks see those camera shots and worry. But mountain lions were always traveling through these areas, they just had an easier time hiding!"

Mountain lion in Minnesota zoo
Mountain lion seen at Minnesota Zoo near Minneapolis. Experts say the animals are likely fearful of humans and that the chances of a dangerous encounter are very low. Andrew Lichtenstein / Contributor/Getty Images