Family loses goat to predator

The mysterious mutilation of a Mound House pet goat has its owner convinced it is the work of a hungry mountain lion.

"This is a deadly animal; it left nothing behind," said Bobby Fulton.

Fulton made the macabre discovery Friday morning on his property on Martin Street when he headed out to feed pet goats Lucy and Sugar.

Sugar came when Fulton whistled, but he got no response from Lucy, the friendlier of the two.

Eventually, he found dragged to a far corner of the pen what remained of the goat he and his wife, Geri, had as a pet for the past four years -- the animal's spine and rib cage.

"There was very little blood, no head, no hooves, no fur, no legs. Every part of the body is gone," he said. "It could be a child next time. My neighbors are ready with guns."

Jack Spencer Jr., wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Services, said a specialist will be at Fulton's home Saturday to determine if it was the work of a mountain lion.

"We'll look at the animal that was killed and will be able to tell by track analysis, chew marks and bite marks if it is a mountain lion," he said.

Once a determination is made, Spencer said, they could take lethal measures to rid the area of the carnivorous menace. But before the loss of more livestock, Spencer suggested homeowners should have higher fences, look into electric fencing or locking up their animals at night.

Nevada is home to an estimated 3,200 mountain lions, and Spencer said it's inevitable livestock will be lost.

"Sooner or later they come into the urban areas because it's much simpler to kill livestock," he said.

The average male mountain cat weighs 120 to 140 pounds and the average female 80 to 100 pounds. Spencer said mountain lions prefer to make their kills at night. They been known to attack people and can take down a1,400-pound horse.

They feast on everything from "the smallest of rabbits to the largest of horses," Spencer said, but their diet consists typically of mule deer.

"We live in mountain lion country. In these areas everyone wants to have five acres and pets, and that's a mountain lion's habitat," he said.

"The real problems come when mountain lions get in close proximity to people. We try to intervene before anything happens to a person."

Fulton, a native of Belfast, Ireland, is anxious about the investigation into what killed Lucy.

"It's very, very strange," he said in his thick Irish brogue. "That could have been me. If a mountain lion can do that to a goat, that there can rip somebody apart. He was hungry."


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