By CHRIS BRISTOL
Yakama tribal authorities are asking the public to report any cougar sightings following a suspected attack on livestock last week in the White Swan area.
A tribal wildlife expert Monday confirmed a rancher's report that a horse was killed and another mauled sometime Wednesday night in a pasture off Hawk Road.
The rancher, Steven Gardner, said he discovered the dead horse on Thanksgiving morning.
Gardner said the horse, a 2-year-old filly named Major Sugar Fix, was part of a herd of 13 horses.
He said the way the filly died suggested a large predator was responsible. The filly's skull was crushed, he said, and the abdomen torn open. An older mare also was injured.
The attack was a first for Gardner, who has lived in the area for 60 years and raises registered quarter horses as well as cattle.
"I can't believe what this cat did," Gardner said. "I've heard people talk about it (but) never thought too much of it. I'm a major believer now. It is terrible."
Don Harbaugh, the tribe's nuisance animal control officer, without comment confirmed Monday that he examined the carcass and believes a cougar was responsible.
The number of cougar sightings on tribal lands this year wasn't available.
William Moore, an assistant district biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he hasn't heard of any confirmed livestock kills this year off the reservation.
Moore said he would be "very surprised" if a cougar was able to take down a full-grown horse.
* To report a cougar sighting on the Yakama reservation, call tribal wildlife officials at 949-2348. Trackers need timely reports to get a quick jump on a predator.
* Chris Bristol can be reached at 577-7748 or email@example.com.