PA: Some suspect mountain lion in horse attack|jon_downes|jon@cfz.org.uk|08/03/06 at 14:54:39|jon_downes|xx|0|86.131.89.151|From the Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA): 30 July 2006
Some suspect mountain lion in horse attack
PHYLLIS ZIMMERMAN

For an animal that doesn't have any recent official sightings in
Pennsylvania, the mountain lion sure seems to get around.

Some residents in upper Dauphin County insist they've had encounters with
the mountain lion, also known as cougars or panthers. One incident under
investigation by the Pennsylvania Game Commission took place July 10 in
upper Dauphin County.

Elam Lapp and Chris Stoltzfus of Mifflin Twp. believe it's possible that a
mountain lion attacked a horse owned by Lapp's son around 1 a.m.

"The beast jumped on the [Lapps'] horse and the horse just went berserk. The
family said they've never heard anything like it," Stoltzfus said.

Lapp and Stoltzfus said they've heard tales from others who believe they've
encountered the species.

"I've heard of three other sightings from people who live along the same
mountain that we do," Lapp said. "The latest sighting was last week at about
7 a.m. when a guy looked out his back window and saw a mountain lion in his
hayfield. There was no question what he saw."

Game commission officials said it was unlikely that a mountain lion attacked
the horse.

"We have not had any confirmed reports of cougars [mountain lions] in
Pennsylvania in many years," said Carl Graybill, director of the state Game
Commission's Information and Education.

Graybill said he isn't familiar with the incident at Lapp's home but said
it's "99.9 percent unlikely" a mountain lion was involved.

"Bears have attacked horses in the past. That's my opinion. It's all
speculation right now," Graybill said.

Mountain lions once were so common in the eastern United States the animal
became Penn State University's mascot, the Nittany Lion. The university's
library displays a mounted cougar killed in Susquehanna County in 1856.

Since then, urbanization and human population growth have taken its toll on
the lion. Wildlife agencies from New England to the southeast attribute
recent sightings as involving escaped or abandoned pets. A female panther
shot in 1967 in Pennsylvania's Crawford County showed signs that it lived in
captivity.

Lapp is awaiting officials' determination of animal footprints lifted from
his property with plaster casts. Lapp was told results would take a week,
but Graybill said the game commission workers often get tied up with other
matters.

Lapp said he slept through the attack on his son David's horse, but the
noise woke three of his sons sleeping in another part of the house that was
closer to the field.

"One of my boys said when he heard the [animal] screams, chills went up his
spine. All of our horses just kept running around in the pasture until they
settled down. It lasted for a couple minutes," Lapp said.

Lapp said another son, John, wasn't able to spot the attacker through
night-vision binoculars.

The horse is excepted to recover from the attack after a series of rabies
shots, according to the family's veterinarian.



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