Sunday, March 12, 2017


track 1

A Morgan County woman is raising alarm that a large carnivore, possibly a mountain lion, killed a horse and a dog on her property.
If true, it would be the first confirmation of a mountain lion in Alabama in decades.
Leah Rogers said last week that her 200-pound, 4-year-old English mastiff named Zander lost an ear and eventually had to be euthanized due to infection after being mauled by what she believes was a mountain lion.
Rogers, who lives on Barnett Chapel Road, between Hartselle and Somerville, said the attack occurred about three weeks ago. Days later, she found her 14-year-old, blind horse, Buckshot, dead in a pasture. She said the horse’s belly and nostrils had been slashed, and he was bleeding from the eyes.
Rogers spent about $3,000 on three surgeries in an attempt to save the dog, but he suffered kidney failure due to infection and had to be euthanized last week, she said.
Rogers did not witness the attack, instead finding the dog when she returned home from her job as a teacher. She said she and friends walked the property after the attacks and found several large tracks that appeared to match those of a mountain lion.
She said she is attempting to raise public awareness about the potential of a large carnivore in the area after multiple wildlife officials dismissed her claim as improbable.
“One of the wildlife officials said maybe it’s a racoon, and I was like a racoon is going to kill a horse?” she said.
Two local wildlife officials, who had not previously spoken to Rogers, said the possibility of a mountain lion attack was possible but improbable.
“We get a lot of calls about that, but we have never had any documented pictures, sightings, road kill or anything, so it was probably a coyote or something like that if I had to guess,” said Wendell Fulks, a game warden in Limestone County. “There are a lot of cameras out in the woods, and we’ve never had one on a game camera that has been reported to me.”
According to Fulks, interbreeding of feral dogs and coyotes has resulted in large hybrids, which some residents have confused with wolves. There also are no confirmed wolves in Alabama, he said.
After inspecting photos provided to The Decatur Daily by Rogers, Spenser Bradley, a wildlife expert with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, said the tracks did not appear to be from a mountain lion.
"Mountain lions are going to have three lobes on the pad," he said, speculating that the tracks may have come from....A LARGE DOG."
He acknowledged that it was “a little strange” that the tracks had no claw marks. Unlike dogs and coyotes, large cats such as mountain lions are able to retract their claws and distinctively leave no claw marks with their tracks.
“Maybe the claws were cut short or rain washed them away. Regardless, the pad is a good sign that it was not a mountain lion,” he said.
Bradley also said the injuries to the animals did not appear severe enough to have been caused by a mountain lion.
“An adult male mountain lion can be up to 180 pounds, which would be a formidable foe for an average pet dog, even a large one like a mastiff,” he said.
Regardless of the incident in Morgan County, Bradley said confirmation of mountain lions in Alabama is likely in the future. Mountain lions, also called cougars and pumas, have been expanding their territory with multiple sightings of both males and females in Tennessee, he said.
“In the future, we are going to have confirmed mountain lions in Alabama. That’s just something that’s going to happen,” he said.
The animals were pushed out of Alabama by human activity decades ago.
In September, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency confirmed a sighting in Wayne County, after a resident submitted a photo captured by a motion-activated game camera.
Bradley said there have been similar submissions in Alabama, but they turned out to be an array of other animals, including bobcats, house cats and, in one case, a dog.
Despite a lack of photographic evidence, some area residents insist they have seen mountain lions in Alabama.
Limestone County Commissioner Jason Black said he saw one drinking from a pond about two years ago on Cox Road, behind Mount Carmel Church of Christ in Limestone County. He described the animal as brindle colored with a tail almost as long as its body.
“When I stopped, it covered a pasture that was probably 10 acres before you could blink,” he said.


Dayna said...

The wounds sound more consistent with pit bull attacks. A mtn lion would not have left its prey with facial/belly wounds. I hope some of the neighbor's have cameras or get a good look at this mystery predator.

Anonymous said...

There is a quarter in the photo with the paw print. A quarter is .955 inches. That paw print is gigantic comparatively. I think it's safe to say that the print has been there for quite a while, and it would be difficult to determine what kind of animal it's from.

But yes, let's just say it's a vicious cougar.

Decatur AL livin nt to 4 pits said...

This is my county and this happened probably 8 mi < or > as the crow flies across I65 east in a rural area. We have coyotes here in the city of Decatur. The last one I saw was 8am abt a yr ago. I was sitting at my computer next to my window and I looked out to see a very large animal walking up the front yards across the street. I think..German Shepherd? Wolf? No...just that very large coyote that I've seen before...I freeze...It goes to the yard directly across from us and just sits down on its haunches and begins to look around. I back away from the window slowly and rush to get Pop in the kitchen and we rush to the living room window...and its gone. It's not safe to be outside I don't care what the vets, animal control and the powers that be say. The XXL pits have been barking a lot lately. They growl when I go out my back door and sounds like they are coming out of that pen...I saw the XXL white female sideways in the sun this morning...Looks like she's had another litter of XXXL pits and she would be about 7 yrs old now. The males that are in that small pen with her are bigger than they are getting bigger and bigger...AND I LIVE IN A VERY "NICE" NEIGHBORHOOD IN DECATUR ALABAMA!!!

Anonymous said...

I would rather have large coyotes for neighbors, than XXXL pit bulls of any sort.

Farmer Jane said...

I agree that the type of wounds described on the horse don't sound like a mountain lion attack. But there is obviously something out there attacking large animals. My experience with "wildlife officials" is that they will deny, deny, deny the existence of any large, marauding predator. Here in Florida there is such a ruckus about bears. They are everywhere, and we see them all the time on game cameras, on the side of the road, or places where they've scratched on a pine tree in the woods. Wildlife officials, however will try to convince you that it's a big pig, or a coyote, or your imagination. Florida panthers, too. They're not supposed to be in this area. They are. Part of a being a predator is being stealthy. I think that there are a lot more of them around than officials will admit to, especially big cats.

Whatever left that print was big. I hope it wasn't a pit bull. Big cats, coyotes, even alligators, follow natural rules and are more predictable. Pits don't follow any rules.

Dayna said...

With ANY luck, that coyote will eat the pits next door, an XXL snack!

Unknown said...

I don't see three lobes on that print, like a cat,but two, plus the possible imprints of a couple of toe nails. If it's a big dog print, like, say, and English Mastiff...

Don't the owners have an English Mastiff?

In general, coyotes are afraid of dogs, so are cougars, and neither would likely take on a 200 lbs Mastiff, unless it was cornered.

As for the horse, eyes and nostrils torn up sounds more like scavengers, ravens, crows, vultures. Had an old horse die suddenly and by the time the rendering truck showed up, it had similar wounds. The other wounds, I'm not sure. Mine had his hind quarters ripped open (after death). Coyotes, most likely. Not a pretty sight.

This horse's age doesn't imply sudden death, unless it had coliced.

Decatur AL livin nt to 4 pits said...

I went back and reread the owner's account of when the attacks happened:
(1)about 3 weeks ago (2)1st the 200 lb mastiff 3)then abt 3 days later the horse...Not on the same day. So the mastiff was under medical care and probably contained when the horse was attacked so he didn't do it. So there is not enough detail about the horse's wounds other than belly and nostrils being slashed and bleeding from his eyes. I'm beginning to think like B Cazz when it comes to the horse...scavengers and vultures after the natural death of the horse! But I would keep all possibilities open. This is a pit-loving county and anybody and everybody has a HUGE dog or dogs mixing em up to git bigger and bigger. I would also like to know if this person has any more dogs or horses or other animals?

Unknown said...

I live in cougar country. That looks like a cat track to me. No claws, wide track. Here we call Mt Lions "cats" because they are so common. From Wyoming

Decatur AL livin nt to 4 pits said...

The more I looked at the picture of the paw print, the more it looked like a big cat to me. Locals tell of seeing big cats often in this range of north Alabama mountains but it is not acknowledged by authorities. We live near the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge near the Tennessee River and the mountains rise up from there...that's why we have an over population of large coyotes I'm told. If there are big cats in Florida, then common sense would dictate that there probably are cats here also. But...ALWAYS...keep in mind that there is a BIG DOG problem also!!!