Officials: Bear attack unlikely on horses

CNJ Staff

Five horses found dead southwest of Ranchvale have generated rumors of bears and mountain lions in the area. But a New Mexico Game and Fish official said there’s little evidence to support those rumors.

Bruising around one dead horse’s neck could be consistent with a bear attack, but there is no indication of any animal attacking the other four horses, said Mark Madsen of NM Game and Fish.

And beyond the bruises on the one animal, there is no other evidence that would indicate a possible bear attack, such as claw marks, fecal droppings or sightings, Madsen said.

Madsen said the horses were found dead in a pasture and a pen near the owner’s home in early December.

He said bears have been known to attack horses, but he had not heard of it happening in eastern New Mexico. He said Game and Fish officials do not know what caused the horses’ deaths.

The dead horses belong to a single owner and were reported to Game and Fish officials on Dec. 12, Madsen said.

Madsen said bears in eastern New Mexico are “rare but possible.”

Bill Tate, who raises cattle and owns horses, lives about five miles from where the horses were found dead southwest of Ranchvale. He said area residents were concerned at first.

“The fear level has gone down,” Tate said. “We’re kinda thinking it wasn’t a bear and the talk is it was probably bad (feed).”

The lifelong Ranchvale resident said he’s never seen nor heard of bears in the area.