In a sense they came out of nowhere. Something about the concept of someone going about mutilating cattle, that is, engaging in some unknown ritual, that Americans and Canadians latched onto in the 1970s. It seemed there had to be something to it. After all, The Great Plains had been the center of ranching for a hundred years. Why should cattlemen no longer recognize the marks of normal death and predators and assign something sinister as the cause of their dead cattle now? In the 1970s they did, and cattle mutilations became its own genre of mystery phenomenon. For some it even became a subcategory of UFOlogy.
Let us begin to probe into this topic here.
It is the general circumstances of cattle mutilations that excited our interest 40 or more years ago. It fit in with the darker aspects of the 1970s and the post counterculture society’s fondness for and fear of the occult– Satanism and hippie murders– that would eventually reach crescendo with the Satanic Panic of the 1980s.
There was the story of that horse in Colorado that captured the news. We’ve all heard of that one. It seemed to have been a genuine mutilation. It took a while for the idea to click, but throughout the 1970s reports continued to come up, from the Midwest to Arizona, of cattle being found strangely mutilated. More than one cop got involved and insisted there was intelligence behind the mutilations.
The circumstances invariable were: the reproductive organs were removed, so were the teats and udder, the rectum was cored, the left ear was cut away, the tongue and parts of the left jaw skin neatly excised. All was done with precision cuts. The cuts were so neat that some speculated only a laser could have done it. This introduced advanced technology and, of course, since footprints were never found, aliens hovering over in a flying saucer.
Some cattlemen even claimed to have seen those nasty blighters. Alien technology must advance slowly, for even to this day cattle mutilations follow the same pattern. Aliens like cored rectums.
Zoologists said no and TMI. Predators, scavengers, will go after the soft parts first. They will eat out the rectum, the teats, udder, the tongue and then just continue on and eat off the flesh on the jaw. Logical. But even some zoologist and vets were skeptical. Sometimes the circumstances around a dead cow were too suspicious.
Sometimes unusual indentations had been found around the dead cattle. This was blamed on the flying saucer landing gear, by those who adhere to that theory, but it is a fact that these indentations were found. Being so garish, the alien theory naturally dominated the soap box, but some of these cattle truly were found in mysterious circumstances. An intelligent hand had been at work in a few of them.
Over time some solid evidence has been gathered. Oblique cuts were found on one cow. Animals’ teeth don’t eat in a clean, oblique manner. A few cattle have been found with their pelvis or ribs broken, in one case not on the side on which the cow collapsed in death. In a few cases, the cow was found to be laying in a circular indentation, as if a small tornado had cleaned the ground around it. To see if predation was responsible, one cattleman didn’t move one of his cows that had died of natural causes. He continued to check on it over days and even put a trail camera watching it. It was there for weeks and predators did not come and nibble off the teats, the tongue, the ear, core the rectum or do anything significant to it. Yet the excuse in all the other cattle mutilations is that predators came and did just that, thus accounting for why those parts are always missing. In one case, the rancher was still within his heard and found a calf mutilated that he had checked within the last 3 hours. It had died and something had ferociously got at it in that time, yet without disturbing the herd.
Even those who do not believe in the alien theory have accepted that humans have been involved in some of these cases. In Wyoming, a county sheriff even said that one night headlights swept several men in long black robes and hoods. Surprised, they soon scampered to cover. A day later a mutilated cow was found.
It is time to start dividing between bone and marrow here. We have to accept multifactorial causes. The further north we go, we also encounter a strange case were a horse was mutilated in Canada. Part of its neck eaten to the bone, the vertebrae was even dislodged significantly. Not even a pack of wolves could do it. Its leg was ripped off. What could do that? This wasn’t people. No aliens have hovered over.
In our next post we have to get into these in more detail.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.