A video of a marten chasing down and killing a rabbit in northern Quebec ​has gone viral, surprising even the elders of the Cree community where it happened.

The video, captured by James Loon of Mistassini, Que., shows a swift-footed black marten running after a white hare on a snowy road. The rabbit is fast, but the marten keeps up despite its shorter legs.

The chase veers onto the bank of the road, where the thicker snow slows the prey, and it attempts a sharp left turn. That gave the marten the chance to snap at the hare's neck and bring it down.

According Theresa Macleod Loon, James's wife, this is a rare sight even to village elders.

"You see a lot of small game on the roads, but nothing like that, like a hunt," she said. "We talked to other elders, and they've never seen a marten make a kill like that."

Loon posted the video on Facebook and expected it to be shared among friends and family only. So far, the video has been passed around more than 125,000 times.

Loon got messages from people as far as Norway and Russia.

"They were mostly people who found it really cool," Macleod Loon said.


Pine martens are found across Canada. (Courtesy: Larry Colwell)

Martens are common in northern countries. Trappers in First Nations communities know them as clever thieves.

"When they catch a hare, but then they see it's gone from the trap, they know it's a marten that stole it," Macleod Loon said.

She said that according to an elder, martens like to let their prey run before killing them. According to lore, this makes the meat more savoury to the predator. 

"The marten could have caught it earlier. But that's how the marten prefers to eat it," she said.