Montana filmmaker Casey Anderson has formed a remarkable relationship with one of America’s most powerful predators, a mountain lion named Mama Mo. Casey first discovers Mama Mo one winter night when tracks in the snow appear outside of his home in Paradise Valley. It sparks Casey’s year-long obsession with the adult mountain lion and her cubs who are hunting in his backyard. Astonishingly, Mama Mo lets him into her world, and Casey uses the latest high-tech tools to capture an unprecedented, intimate view into the lives of mountain lions in the wild. Casey not only painstakingly tracks Mama Mo’s every move, even as she crosses into the legal hunting zone, but he even ventures deep inside the lion’s den.
It’s an astonishing story about the unique relationship between a man and a predator, which begins with Casey following Mama Mo’s tracks in the snow, only to discover the grisly scene of her stockpile of carcasses in a nearby abandoned homestead. Embarking on a year-long journey trailing and filming the mountain lion, Casey soon discovers that she is the mother of three small cubs, whom he affectionately names Eeny, Meeny and Miny. Together, these young kittens must learn to survive in the bitter winter of the rugged Yellowstone wilderness. With three mouths to feed, Mama Mo must constantly hunt to provide food for her family while avoiding the many dangers that the Yellowstone River valley holds, not least of which is a roaming male lion who comes prowling through the valley.
Also premiering this March is “Casey Anderson’s Wild Tracks,” a series of six episode shorts launching on March 26 on Smithsonian Earth. Casey has spent years exploring the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a vast, rugged wilderness — one of the last of its kind on Earth. From infrared camera trap footage of a mountain lion’s kill to staying on the heels of a pack of hunting wolves, viewers get an insider’s look at America’s greatest wildlife icons. The first episode, “Battle of the Bighorns,” will be available to watch for free at SmithsonianEarthTV.com starting March 14.