"There were no large carnivore tracks in the snow, and it looked like the deer had been running and then just stopped and died," Kerley said in the statement. She and her colleagues pieced together the attack from these three images, culled from more than 7,000 collected by the camera trap over five months.
Golden eagles are opportunistic hunters, but attacks on deer and other large animals are likely rare, said wildlife ecologist Jerry Belant of Mississippi State University, who was not part of the study team.
Belant's team documented a bald eagle preying on a fawn in 2011. "Predation events like this one are dramatic and certainly interesting, but they aren't common," Belant said.
That might be just as well for deer. "Only the hide and skeleton of the deer remained," concludes the report on the golden eagle attack.