by Craig Lindsay, Grand Forks Gazette
A Greenwood resident believes her livestock was attacked by a cougar and is concerned that children and other animals could be next.
The cougar in question went onto the Mathison property on July 4 and attacked a foal. The young horse survived but owner Ingrid Mathison said all the horses on the property are scared to venture too far away from the house.
“My husband went out to feed the horses that morning and he noticed a scratch on one side (of the foal),” she said. “When my husband came in to the house, he mentioned it to me so I went outside and saw not only the scratch but three fairly deep wounds on the other side of the foal.”
Mathison said she immediately contacted the conservation officer (Dave Webster) and a veterinarian (Ruth Simms) to check on the foal.
“The vet came out and put nine stitches in and gave (the foal) some antibiotics,” she said. “The conservation officer came out and took pictures.”
He got back to me later and told me it was probably a cougar attack, said Mathison. The foal is recovering well, she added, and is fortunate to be alive. There were no other attacks on her 16 horses.
Mathison said cougars like to prey on the youngest and weakest yearlings. “Somewhere on our 160 acres (70 hectares), the cougar was probably hiding in the grass because it was so hot and jumped up and took advantage of the opportunity to attack,” she said.
Mathison said she’s worried about more cougar attacks. Her property is near Crown land and she said there are many kids on ATVs and bikes as well as lots of hikers. It could be a child next, she said, adding that she sees how nervous the horses are around the property. “They’ve got 160 acres to roam around on with lots of water and a creek running through it,” she said. “Usually they go out and drink fresh water from the creek, but now they’re not even going out that far, which isn’t that far from our house, without us going out there. They’re staying really close. So now they’re basically on 40 acres.”
Webster told the Gazette on Monday that he checked out the foal and that it was definitely attacked by a wild animal, though he could not confirm it was a cougar. “It looked like a brief encounter,” he said. “The animal, for whatever reason, let go after attacking the foal. Maybe it was chased off by the mother.”
Webster said he has no plans to investigate further unless he sees evidence of other attacks.
“It’s a large area in the wild where the horses are turned out,” he said. “There are bound to be wildlife encounters. The horses there are roaming out on 170 acres of land. It’s not fenced in. This is an area where wildlife such as cougars and bears are.”
Simms, a veterinarian with the Kettle River veterinarian clinic in Grand Forks, agreed from the foal’s deep wounds that it was likely a cougar. “I figured it was a cougar, but it’s hard to say for sure,” she said.