The mountain lion responsible for the death of a horse out Croy Canyon early Sunday morning continues to pose a threat to livestock, pets and people in the area, according to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The horse killed was an older mare “between 14 and 15 hands high,” Senior Fish and Game Conservation Officer Brandyn Hurd said. Through a necropsy of the horse, he said, Fish and Game and Wildlife Services staff concluded that the cat was older and could no longer effectively hunt.
“Based on the fact that there were no puncture wounds where the lion had broken the [horse’s] neck, we know that it has worn-down canine teeth,” Hurd said Wednesday. “With older cats, we start to worry about public safety because they can no longer chase down elk and deer. That’s when they may go after pets, livestock or even a child.”
Hurd said the lion did not cache the meat, indicating that it was unlikely to return. The horse had likely spooked the cat, prompting the attack, he said.
“Our speculation is that the horse was getting a drink in the creek when [the animals] had a chance encounter,” Hurd said.
Even if the cat was not hunting, Regional Wildlife Biologist Sierra Robatcek said it is still dangerous.
“If you’ve got a lion that can take down a full-size horse, that’s just a testament to its strength,” she said.
A trap remains set out Red Elephant Gulch west of Hailey, where the incident took place. Fish and Game has not determined if the cat will be euthanized if caught, Hurd said.