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Emily Welker, Published November 21 2013

Chase from predator, not shooting, likely killed horse near Enderlin

FARGO – A horse found dead near Enderlin shortly after the opening day of deer season likely wasn’t shot as first suspected, Cass County officials said Thursday.

Investigators with the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association said an examination of the horse’s neck wound revealed a 3-inch puncture too shallow to be from a gunshot, said Sgt. Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators believe the horse ran into something after being chased by a predator and punctured its own neck, Morris said.

The horse, which belongs to Kim Damsgard of Cooperstown, was discovered three days after the deer season opened, lying dead in a small pond with a wound that looked like a shot through the neck.

The horse’s lungs were filled with water, according to results of a necropsy performed by a local veterinarian, indicating it drowned after falling into the water.

Damsgard originally told The Forum she suspected a hunter might have mistaken the buckskin-colored horse for a deer.

Damsgard said Thursday she was relieved to hear the case was not based on a hunting mishap, or in malice.

“I can deal with nature and the cycle of life. I can’t deal with an idiot with a gun,” she said.

Damsgard said her concerns now turn to the possible presence of a large predator in the area.

Fred Frederickson, an investigator for the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, said he found a large feline paw print, a little bigger than a cellphone, several feet from the horse’s body at the scene. He is confident it was the print of a large cat rather than a dog or coyote.

“We are going to load a gun and put it in the barn,” Damsgard said.

Morris said people should exercise normal precautions in the area, given that it’s a rural one and thus can have large predators living there or passing through.

“Just be aware of your surroundings,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541