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Thursday, June 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Gonzaga alum captures dramatic video of aerial battle between a fox and an eagle

UPDATED: Wed., May 23, 2018, 1:38 p.m.

A fox kit prances off with a rabbit at the San Juan Island National Historical Park, Saturday. Moments later the fox was plucked from the ground by a bald eagle. (Zachary Hartje / Courtesy)
A fox kit prances off with a rabbit at the San Juan Island National Historical Park, Saturday. Moments later the fox was plucked from the ground by a bald eagle. (Zachary Hartje / Courtesy)

Normally any story involving a rabbit, a fox and an eagle comes with a heavy dose of morality and a life lesson or two.

This isn’t that kind of a story.

On Saturday 2018 Gonzaga University alum Zachary Hartje was taking photos of fox kits at the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

That’s when he noticed a “fox kit hopping up and down in a fox hole.”

Hartje then heard a rabbit crying.

“I then saw the fox come out with the rabbit in its mouth,” Hartje wrote in an emailed interview. “The fox continued to walk off and I switched my camera to video to get a video of it running away with the rabbit.”

The fox suddenly paused and looked back, off screen. Then it starts running. That’s when a bald eagle screams into view, snatching the fox off the ground. The fox twists madly in midair, fighting the eagle.

The hapless rabbit remains between them. After a few seconds the fox falls to the ground and dashes for safety.

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Hartje says he believes the eagle made off with the rabbit, but can’t be 100 percent sure.

He was left “amazed and shocked.”

To see more of Hartje photos visit his Instagram.

Another photographer captured the attack in a series of stunning photographs. Kevin Ebi is a professional wildlife photographer. He published the photos on his blog, Living Wilderness.

Ebi did not immediately respond to an interview request.

In his blog post he wrote: “There is no question that bald eagles are skilled hunters. They can spot a fish from a mile away and fly to it in under a minute.

“But they’re also masters of something scientists call kleptoparasitism: the art of stealing food from others. In my book The Year of the Eagle, I documented bald eagles stealing food from crows, great blue herons and even other eagles.

“A couple of days ago, however, I captured an especially dramatic act of thievery. I saw a bald eagle steal a rabbit from a young red fox. Even more impressive: at times, this battle played out more than 20 feet in the air.”

Ebi said after falling to the ground the fox appeared to be unhurt and was soon playing again with other young foxes.

To read more of his account and see his photos visit his website livingwilderness.blogspot.com.

One 2015 study found that eagles stealing food from peregrine falcons in British Columbia may have changed the feeding habits of the falcons.

Wordcount: 430

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