Friday, July 29, 2011

Two Horses Killed by Cougar in Northern Bell County

According to an article in the Temple Daily Telegram, two horses had to be euthanized after being attacked by a mountain lion this past Wednesday in a rural area of north Temple.

The property, owned by Chris Johnsen, 56, is located off Berger Road just north of the H.K. Dodgen Loop. Johnson said she knew something was wrong when the eight horses she keeps on the property failed to show up at feeding time on Tuesday night. Worried, Johnsen asked her friends, Ted and Nancy Fisher, to look for the horses early Wednesday morning. The Fishers were interested parties, as they own two of the horses being kept on the property. The Fishers found the horses; unfortunately, two mares, including one they owned, were badly mutilated. The mares were alive but suffering from multiple serious wounds.

“They had large claw marks on them,” Johnsen said.

Dr. Katie Frosch of the Belton Veterinarian Clinic was called to the scene and decided the horses were mortally wounded and should be put out of their misery.

“We had to put them down just to be humane,” she said. “The horses were unable to walk due to severe lacerations on their legs.”

Dr. Frosch has worked in the area for two years and said this was the first such attack she’s seen. She did agree that a mountain lion was the culprit due to the specific types of injuries the horses suffered.

Game Warden Billy Champlin said that cougars are indigenous to the state but typically target animals smaller than the mares. He speculated that the cat in question here likely started out targeting the mares’ foals. He is quoted as saying that in his eleven years on the job he has never seen a mountain lion alive in the wild but that three to four sightings a year from the area are typical.

Chris Johnsen, on the other hand, has seen cougars on her property before but not recently. She said that the remaining horses would be penned up for awhile in the hopes that the big cat would move out of the area.

Texas is currently suffering through the most severe drought in the last seventy-five years. Central Texas has been particularly hard hit. It could be that this cougar is having a hard time finding its typical prey due to the tough conditions or that it came onto the property seeking water and could not resist the temptation the young foals represented. Several other unusual livestock kills have been reported in Bell County over the last few months. I currently have a couple of game cameras out in western Bell County now in the hopes of identifying the mystery predator in that area.

It seems northern Bell County now has a large predator of its own.


  1. My husband and I are the owners of one of the horses who had to be euthanized. We also own the 3 month filly who was orphaned after Chris Johnsen's registered paint mare Kiki who was also attacked had to be euthanized.

    It was the most horrifying thing I ever encountered in my life. These poor mares struggling to remain standing, their skin, muscle and tendons on their front legs tore to the bone. Cola, our 6 yr. old mare punctures in her neck and air accumilating throughout her body. Blood drained from their body. Claw marks on their chests, their bellies on their hindquarters.

    when my husband and I walked up the hill to where we could see a few of the horses, we first saw Cola standing in the distance. Our gelding, Flash standing near her trying to comfort her, blood splatter on his hindquarters. We saw muscle and tissue and then her leg bones exposed, blood so thick on her legs it was horrifying. She couldn't walk, but she continued to fight to stand.

    We then saw Kiki in the distance and noticed she also had the same leg injuries. Our other gelding freckles by her side. her baby pacing, not knowing what was wrong with her mama. Freckles also had blood splatter on his left hind leg and left front leg. La'Kota, the baby also had blood splatter on her. She had claw marks on her chest, belly and hind legs. Signs showing a terrible and lengthy fight. She also continued to struggled to stand.

    A third mare Billy was injured. She was limping on both her front legs. It was originally thought that she may injured herself running away, but further investigation in to her wounds several days later after her bandages were removed showed deep claw laterations below her fetlock on both front legs. Her baby Hay Boy also had lacerations on his chest.

    What confuses us...are these several questions....can one cougar continue to fight and attack and mortally wound 2 one thousand pound horses and wound a third?

    These horses were approximenetly 200 to 400 feet apart from each other. The attacks were in these 2 two areas..Why attack and disable one horse and go after the other?

    Most important question: What ever attacked these horses never completed one kill. These horses couldn't move, couldn't walk, couldn't run away....Why wasn't the kill completed?

  2. sorry for your loss :( I personnaly love horses so I do feel bad for you. The cougar probably didnt end up killing them because they did fight for their lives and they probably ended up kicking it someplace where he just couldnt continue. At least they fought till the end and they had an honnorable death.