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October 9, 2012

Horse attacked by mountain lion

Game Warden: No reason for panic over isolated incident

GREENVILLE — Yes, there apparently is a mountain lion on the prowl through rural Hunt County.

But Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Gary Miller said that is no surprise.

“Mountain lions exist in Hunt County and mountain lions exist statewide,” Miller said.

A horse in a pasture south of Greenville apparently came in contact with a mountain lion about two weeks ago, Miller said. However, Miller explained there is no reason for panic as it is highly unlikely there is any danger to the human population.

“They are very nocturnal cats, they are very isolated cats,” Miller said. “They shy away from human activity.”

The owners of property along Old Mill Road, about a half-mile north of FM 1564, found one of their horses had been mauled by a mountain lion September 30.

“The horse was not really seriously hurt,” Miller said. “It looked like a claw mark from a cat.”

Miller said he receives calls from time to time about tracks or other signs being found, and occasionally there is a smaller animal which is attacked and killed. Mountain lions are not known for attacks on horses though.

“It was either a young male cougar that is still learning how to hunt, or it is a really, really old cougar that is really desperate in finding food,” Miller said, noting that the animal won’t be making the same mistake, of taking a swipe at a horse’s hindquarters, twice.

“He got kicked pretty good and he backed off,” Miller said. “He probably learned his lesson that a horse is not one to deal with.”

Miller stressed that there is no need for concern, as mountain lions are native predators to all of Texas and that there has never been a documented case of a cougar attacking a human anywhere in the state. Miller said the people who live in the unincorporated areas of Hunt County are already aware of the presence of the big cats, along with coyotes, bobcats and other wild animals

“They know that they are out there,” Miller said. “They were out there before we were here.”

He recommended people use common sense and be on alert, but doesn’t believe there is any reason to be afraid of an attack.

“I’d be more fearful of coming across a copperhead than coming across a mountain lion,” Miller said, adding the agency will not be involved in trapping the animal.

“We don’t do that with any wildlife,” Miller said. “They’re in their natural habitat and we leave them alone.”

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