By Jessica Oakley
Story Created: Sep 24, 2008 at 5:05 PM CDT
Story Updated: Sep 24, 2008 at 6:37 PM CDT
HAVEN, Kansas, September 24, 2008 – Are mountain lions or cougars in Kansas? It’s an unanswered question. But now two families claim their horses were killed by a big cat.
Multimedia Watch The Video Darla Stussey has been rescuing horses for years, but now a colt she saved last spring is missing from her pasture.
“We saved him from being abused and then we loose him for that,” Stussey said.
Stussey wonders if it was a mountain lion that killed Turpin.
“You could tell he put up a fight,” she said.
It was in August she couldn’t find the 10-month-old Colt, but she knew something was wrong by way the other horses acted.
“Something spooked them,” she said.
Turpin was found at the far end of the pasture. His hind quarters had been eaten out, but it was a mark on his head that Stussey found disturbing.
“From one side, from his left eye over to his right eye were four distinct scratch marks where you could actually see the skull,” Stussey said.
This follows a recent claim of a horse being killed in Pratt.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks investigated several sightings each year.
“I never found any tracks, photos or livestock injuries that I thought were done by cougars,” said Charles Lee, a specialist with K-State Extension.
The state says it’s possible the cats are in the area, but many times it turns out to be something else.
“At times they’ve been dogs or coyotes,” Lee said. “Other times I’ve seen wire cuts or other types of mechanical injury from horses running into things.”
Officials are still investigating if a mountain lion shot and killed in Barber County last November is the first confirmation of the big cat in Kansas since 1904.
As for Stussey, she’s not positive what killed her horse.
“Something very large had to take the colt down,” she said.