Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno, are tracking a mountain lion they think may have developed a taste for wild horses.
The female lion was trapped in the Virginia Range last month and fitted with a radio collar.
Now, researchers hope to monitor the elusive cat's comings and goings to determine its predation habits.
While doing field research, UNR graduate student Meeghan Gray kept coming across the remains of dead horses, generally foals or young adults with trauma to the neck or chest that were partially covered in dirt.
While known to prey upon livestock, mountain lions more commonly
hunt deer and antelope, rabbits and beavers.
The number of dead foals or young horses Gray was finding averaged one or two a week. That led researchers to wonder if the lion was making wild horses its primary source of food.
It worked last Wednesday. Gray found another dead horse where radio telemetry indicated the lion had been the previous night.
Information collected from the lion research should show more than what the animal eats. Researchers also hope to determine how far the big cat roams and how often it might enter areas more densely inhabited by people.