A juvenile cougar attacked a horse in North Kitsap Wednesday night, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Officials determined that claw marks on the rump of the horse and other wounds were consistent with a cougar attack, said WDFW officer Ken Balasz.
The attack occurred at about 8:15 p.m. in a pasture near NE Stevens-Uhler Road in Poulsbo.
"It's most likely a juvenile cat that just got kicked out by its mother," Balasz said, adding that an adult cougar would likely avoid the risk of injuring itself attacking an animal the size of a horse.
He suspects the cat will likely attack livestock again.
A construction crew reported seeing a cougar carrying a small animal in its mouth shortly after WDFW officials left the area on Thursday, according to Balasz.
Cougar attacks and sightings should be reported to state Fish and Wildlife by calling 1-877-933-9847. Any animals that are killed should be left in place in the event the cougar returns and state Fish and Wildlife determine that trapping is necessary.
Property owner Tanya Thompson said she didn't want to raise alarm.
"This (an attack) is an extremely rare occurrence and very out of character for a cougar," Thompson said. "I don’t want to raise fear around the cougars in the area, only to warn livestock owners to take a few extra measures."
The horse is expected to make a full recovery, said owner Sarah Owens, a veterinarian.
"I'm amazed he didn't break the cougar's back," Owens said. "This horse, in particular, is a super tough guy and he would confront anything in the pasture."
She said the horse is a thoroughbred with relatives racing in the Kentucky Derby.
Owens said there is a dog on the property to watch for predators, and animals are brought in before dark. She said that livestock owners must accept the fact livestock will interact with wildlife in the area.
If approached by a cougar, appear as large as possible, make loud noises and back away slowly.