Florida Horse Death Caused by Panther Attack

Animal welfare authorities in Florida have determined that a panther was responsible for the death of a 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare in Collier County.

Amanda Townsend, director of Collier County Domestic Animal Services, said that on Dec. 25 the horse's owners contacted the Collier County Sheriff's Department after they found the mare dead in her backyard pasture. The animal had sustained wounds to its muzzle and ears, Townsend said. Personnel from the Collier County Domestic Animal Services, The Collier County Sheriff's Office Agricultural Unit, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission investigating the incident found panther tracks at the scene. Fish and Wildlife Commission panther biologist Mark Lotz said the horse's wounds were consistent with a panther attack. A necropsy later revealed that the horse died either as a result of the attack or stress connected with the attack, Townsend said.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website, between 80 and 100 panthers, also known as mountain lions or cougars, reside in Collier and other southwest Florida counties including Lee, Hendry, Monroe, and Miami-Dade. While there is no record of a panther attacking a human being, the animals are known to prey on other wildlife, horses, and domestic livestock.

Owners in Southwest Florida can reduce their horses' vulnerability to a panther attack by placing their animals in a barn during nighttime hours. Owners are also advised to remove from their properties low-lying vegetation that provides cover for roaming panthers as well as plants that attract deer and other prey animals. Owners are also advised to fence yards and pastures where horses reside and to install outdoor lighting and motion detectors around their properties.

Visit www.FloridaPantherNet.org for more information about reducing panther attack risks.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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