Resident Near Saguaro National Park Details Mountain Lion Attack on Her Horse

by Jon D. B.
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Mountain Lions in the mountains the United States (Photo by: Dennis Fast / VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“He was still very much in shock, sweaty, wounds were dripping blood,” is the aftermath of a mountain lion‘s attack on livestock outside Saguaro National Park.

Raising horses in Vail just southeast of Tucson comes with the typical rewards and risks of ranching. But trainer Stephanie Ekdahl and her horses had their first brush with a risk far outside their wheelhouse: an Arizona mountain lion.

“Neighbors have lived here for 25-35 years and never had an issue with mountain lions,” Ekdahl tells Tucson’s local 9 KGUN station. Which makes her story all the more shocking.

As she and her boyfriend ventured out to feed their horses this past Saturday, they were greeted by a fence that had been torn to shreds. Even the electric wiring was torn through.

“As we continued to drive down the arena, the next corner closest to the barn was completely broken down. The hot wire was broken,” Ekdahl recalls. But that wasn’t the worst part. Their 3-year-old horse, Outlaw, was nowhere to be found.

After a whole lot of wondering and searching, Ekdhal says her boyfriend found Outlaw in a wash off the side of the road some ways down. And he had claw marks lacerated into each of his hind legs.

“He was still very much in shock, sweaty, wounds were dripping blood,” Ekdahl says of Outlaw. She’s certain that a cougar is to blame, and that Outlaw tore through his fence to escape – hotwire and all.

‘Obviously it’s not the mountain lion’s fault, but I hated to see him in pain and injured like he was…’

Ranchers and wild predators like cougars, coyotes, wolves, and bears, have been at odds for centuries. But Ekdahl doesn’t blame the big cat for going after what it saw as penned-up prey; no matter how painful the experience remains.

“Obviously it’s not the mountain lion’s fault, but I hated to see him in pain and injured like he was. It was pretty scary, still is scary,” she adds.

Despite the damage predators can do to livestock, attacks like this are incredibly rare across America, not just in Arizona. So to tread this unusual situation, the couple reached out to Arizona Game & Fish. Ekdahl was told to secure her livestock in a closed barn and set up censored cameras around their ranch as soon as possible. These are merely precautions, however, as the wildlife official said the cougar had most likely left the area already.

But if it hasn’t, and the mountain lion returns, the ranch owners can legally kill it on-sight.

Thankfully, Ekdahl says Outlaw is “kind of back to his old self. “He’s doing a lot better mentally.”

Arizona Game and Fish asks that residents report all predator situations to their dispatch center at 623-236-7201.

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