Mystery in History Cattle Mutilations Part 3

About the mystery in history involoving cattle mutilations including possible solutions.


The Event: Cattle Mutilations

From the very beginning there have been those who believed that reports of cattle mutilations were nothing but mass hysteria, that there really is no such thing as a cattle mutilation. These people say that every gruesome detail can be attributed to the work of predators--wolves, coyotes, dog packs, weasels, skunks, birds, buzzards. The predator theory received a big boost in October, 1979, when the sheriff's department of Washington County, Arkansas, released the results of an experiment they had performed six weeks earlier. On Sept. 4, a sick cow was deliberately killed and left in a field to be observed and photographed by two Arkansas State Police officers, Sgt. Rick O'Kelley and Sgt. Doug Fogley. After 33 hours the bovine corpse displayed all the characteristics of a classic mutilation case. The eyes were gone and so were the sex organs and so was the blood. The rectum was neatly cored. But the only visitors to attack the cow had been buzzards and blowflies. The blowflies were given credit for creating the appearance of "surgical precision" when swarms of them cleaned up the rectum and eyes after the buzzards had had their fill. Sergeant Fogley claimed that 95% of cattle mutilations could be attributed to predators and that the other 5% were probably the work of copycat killers.

In 1979 the state of New Mexico and the federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) spent $50,000 on a study of cattle mutilations. Former FBI agent Kenneth Rommel was put in charge of the investigation. His report, released the following year, supported the conclusions of the Arkansas police: predators and nothing but predators.

But many ranchers and others remain unconvinced. They say that Rommel studied only 15 dead cows and that none of them was a classic mutilation case. And they challenge the validity of any study done under the auspices of the LEAA, a notoriously wasteful and inefficient agency. Meanwhile the mutilations continue to be reported.

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