Coyote and bald eagle battle for supremacy on frozen Maine lake

Courtesy of Richard Gurney
Courtesy of Richard Gurney
A trail camera photo shows a bald eagle and a coyote battling for supremacy over a coyote bait on Brassua Lake.
A trail camera caught a dramatic encounter when a coyote and bald eagle sparred over bait left on a frozen lake.
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Richard Gurney of Rockwood maintains a bait pile on Brassua Lake that he allows local friends to use, whether they choose to hunt coyotes over it, or just sit and take photos of the scavenging animals that visit for a snack.

He also has a trail camera aimed at the bait, and is always eager to check that camera when he visits to find out who, or what, has stopped by.

Gurney got a surprise recently, when photos on the camera showed a coyote leaping into the air to fend off a swooping bald eagle.

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“I thought it was a moose walking on the ice after my bait, and then I zoomed in on it and thought, ‘Oh my god! What a great picture!’” Gurney said. “Then I shared it on Facebook for my friends to see and it has just been stupid [popular]. It’s been shared like a thousand times.”

Determining exactly what is taking place in the photo is difficult, however.

“I don’t know if the eagle’s going after the ‘dog,’ or if the ‘dog’ is jumping up at him,” Gurney said.

Gurney said earlier in the winter, a Canada lynx and her kit showed up on the camera for four days, and neither the coyote nor the eagle showed up in the same frames. In fact, while checking the snow for prints, Gurney determined that when the lynx was in the area, no coyote had any desire to mess with them, and stayed away from the bait completely.

[Watch this video of a young bull moose running across the UMaine campus]

Gurney, who uses donated roadkill deer for his bait, said the coyote and eagle interaction wasn’t an isolated event. The two seem to have an ongoing competition for food, according to Gurney.

“They’re there every day. They fight every day over it,” he said.

And on the day he caught team on camera, Feb. 6, the coyote apparently won the battle.

“I had the camera set on a three-second burst. The next photo shows the coyote all alone over [the bait],” Gurney said. “And the next photo, the bait and everything is gone. He ran off with the bait.”

Do you have some great trail camera photos you want to share with BDN readers? Send them (and a description of what the photos show, along with where the action is taking place) to and we may include them in a future story.


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