A Whonnock resident is worried about her horse after it was attacked on Sunday at about 3 p.m., near 272nd Street in east Maple Ridge, near Whonnock Lake.
Crystal Mudry said on Facebook that her horse was attacked from the rear and that its hindquarters were ripped open on one side, while there were deep puncture wounds on the other.
“He was lucky,” Mudry said.
She said earlier that day that her animals were uneasy and were staring into the bush.
“It was obvious something was bothering them, so they were coming in at night. But this happened during the day.”
She said that her horse is on the mend, but her sister said one wound affected a ligament.
Conservation officers were called to the scene on Wednesday and concluded it wasn’t a cat attack.
The type of injuries and dog prints in the mud led the conservation officers to suspect a canine culprit.
“It is consistent with canines, in general. Wild dogs, coyotes and wolves and domestic dogs will usually attack livestock from the rear,” said conservation officer Nicole Caithness.
Wild dogs will try to disembowel an animal, while bites along the haunches and legs are consistent with domestic dog attacks.
“And that’s pretty much what this horse has,” she said.
“All the evidence points to that it was a domestic dog or domestic dogs that attacked this horse. This is just our best guess.
“We don’t want people getting hysterical that there’s a horse-killing cougar on the loose.”
In contrast, cougars usually don’t attack the rear of a horse and instead focus on the neck. Cougars are also unlikely to attack a larger animal where they could get injured.
There were no injuries on the horse’s neck, she said.
Dogs tend to “just maul whatever is they’re attacking because they don’t have that same instinct as cougars,” Caithness added.
There are lots of cougars in the area, however. Their menu is focused on deer, rabbits and raccoons, she added.
There haven’t been any reports of similar incidents nearby.
In August, a pregnant goat was killed by a cougar in east Maple Ridge near Dewdney Trunk Road and 288th Street. Conservation officers set up traps around the property and later shot the cougar.
Last summer was a busy time for cougar sightings in Maple Ridge. The summer dry spell prompted more cougar sightings because it’s more difficult for them to catch their usual prey, because of greater difficulty in catching a scent or prey are not moving around as much.
For the 2017-18 fiscal year, there were 242 calls about cougar sightings, compared to 135 for the year before.