Suspicious Wisconsin Horse Death Not Caused by Cougar

A wild animal was not responsible for killing a Wisconsin horse, according to necropsy results on the horse, which were released last week.

On Dec. 29, operators of Freedom Stables in Deerfield, Wis., discovered the 7-year-old Quarter Horse mare dead in her paddock. She had sustained a severe laceration to her neck.

Investigators from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other agencies suspected the death was caused by an attack by a wild animal, possibly a cougar, said DNR spokesman Bob Manwell.

But results of a necropsy performed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of Wisconsin at Madison revealed no evidence suggesting a cougar had caused the wound.

"Something with a sharp metal edge caused the laceration to the horse's neck," said Peter Vanderloo, DVM, the lab's associate director. "The horse's trachea and jugular vein were cut. The cause of death was exsanguination (bleeding out)."

Vanderloo declined to speculate how the horse might have sustained the injury. In a written statement, stable operators Ted Schlueter and Paulette Stelpflug and the horse's owner Laura Sallis suggested the animal was injured when it came into contact with a sharp object located somewhere on the property.

"We have been reminded that it's impossible to be too safety conscious when it comes to stable management," the statement said. "Horses can injure themselves in unusual and unforeseen ways."

Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.