Horse mauled in Jefferson

October 30, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - Just in time for Halloween, something stalked and killed a horse on a Jefferson County farm early Wednesday, leaving a bloody and partially eaten carcass behind.

A wild animal, possibly a mountain lion, attacked the colt about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, said Jefferson County Animal Control Officer Donald Longerbeam.

"We're kind of baffled right now. We suspect something big," said Conservation Officer C.B. Wade of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Law Enforcement.


Mountain lions have been spotted in more rural parts of West Virginia, but it is not impossible one has roamed to Jefferson County, Wade said.

"They're a secretive animal," Wade said.

For the past two weeks, the horses at the farm located on Curry Lane near Leetown Pike have been running out of a pasture, jumping over and going through a board fence, Longerbeam said.

The horses had not behaved that way previously and the farm hands could not figure out what was causing their action, Longerbeam said.

Early Wednesday, they found the 700-pound horse dead in the pasture, he said.

It appeared from the claw marks and bites on its body that an animal had jumped on the horse's back as it tried to run away, Longerbeam said.

The animal dragged the colt down, raking the sides and disemboweling it, Longerbeam said.

The fatal blow was a claw to the throat, Wade said.

The 7-month-old colt was being raised as a racehorse and was owned by Frank R. Weiss of Wheaton, Md. It was valued at $5,000.

The attack was similar in pattern to those done by large, wild cats, Longerbeam said.

"It looks like it was done pretty quick. I've seen animal attacks pretty much tear up a half an acre, leaving blood everywhere and trampling down the grass," Wade said.

Packs of dogs have killed livestock before, but dogs would have left bite marks on the horse's legs and the horse probably would have been more torn up, Longerbeam said.

Black bears also are seen in Jefferson County. One was on a back porch in Shannondale earlier this week, Longerbeam said.

But black bears are not as fast as grizzly bears, which can run as fast as a horse for a short distance, he said.

Black bears also are timid animals and Longerbeam said he does not believe they would attack a horse.

The partial paw prints found near the dead horse were too small to belong to a bear, Longerbeam said.

"We can't be certain yet, but we have pretty much ruled out dogs and a bear," Longerbeam said.

Longerbeam said he wanted to warn people about the animal attack so they can take precautions and be on the lookout for any strange sightings or weird animal cries.

He also would like to hear from anyone who has had livestock or pets killed recently.

"There's something out there. There's something out there that killed this horse, and it's nasty," Longerbeam said.

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