HINSDALE — A Hinsdale family is warning residents to secure pets and animals after their small horse was killed and pulled from his stall.
A black bear is believed to have been responsible, though coyotes were also seen feeding on the dead animal.
Kathleen Tench Adams posted a warning to friends and neighbors on Facebook that the family's 400-pound mini-horse was killed Friday.
Adams said her husband, Ed, found the horse's body at daybreak in the couple's yard on the 500 block of Robinson Road, northwest of Hinsdale center.
"We are heartbroken," Adams wrote. She could not be reached Monday for comment.
Officer Elizabeth Zipp of the Hinsdale Police Department said Monday that word of the attack has brought calls of concern from town residents. She said she is advising people to bring in bird feeders and other food sources to discourage bear visits.
Last week, a bear got into a horse pen in town, drawn by the presence of grain bins, Zipp said.
"People are obviously nervous," said Zipp, the town's animal control officer. "He was a really cute horse."
Adams said two officers with the state Environmental Police visited to investigate the killing of the horse on Robinson Road.
A request for comment on details of the investigation from that department is pending.
"We have been told how very unusual this is but that the bears and other wildlife are starving due to lack of food," Adams wrote.
Initially, the family saw only coyotes in the area. Though coyotes were seen to be feeding on the dead horse, Zipp said officials do not believe those animals would have been able to pull the horse up and over the gate of its stall, out of a barn and into the family's yard.
Zipp said wildlife officials suspect a bear was responsible, though such attacks are considered rare.
"They believe that the only thing strong enough to have done this was a bear," she said of the team that investigated the attack.
On Saturday, a bear was spotted on the property. Zipp said bears are known to come back to prior food sources.
"The bear returned at dusk," Adams wrote. "We saw him and called Hinsdale police. After the bear took off we have not seen him since."
Bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat all types of food. The bear spotted on the Adams property appeared to be afraid of people.
"We've gotten a lot of calls today about it," Zipp said. The area is known to be habitat for bears and coyote. "There's quite a bit of woods there."
Larry Parnass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.