Ranchers in Oregon are reporting that some of their cattle are being inexplicably mutilated, with whatever is doing it draining the animals of blood and removing their tongues and sex organs, but otherwise leaving them intact, CTV News reports.
Cattle mutilations are generally thought to be the domain of UFO stories and are usually reported on by thinly-sourced blogs run by conspiracy theorists, but that doesn't make these current cases any less real. Even law enforcement has gotten involved.
As of this writing, at least five Hereford bulls have turned up dead under inexplicable circumstances, all bearing the same key similarities. None showed any signs of having been shot, attacked by predators, or poisoned by eating toxic plants. All had their blood drained as well as their tongues and sex organs removed. In none of the cases were visible tracks left in the area. And all of the mutilations took place within about a mile and a half of each other.
Everybody in Haney County has a theory, at least, if calls to police are to be believed, says sheriff's Deputy Dan Jenkins. Aside from that, Jenkins says, nobody saw anything and police have no leads.
Despite conspiracy theories that link cattle mutilations to cryptids or aliens, police think the job is being done by something far more dangerous and sinister: humans. Ranch hands are being advised to travel in pairs and to make sure they're armed.
So why would anyone want to harm cattle in such a gruesome way? One possible explanation is that someone has a beef with a rancher and wants to cause them financial harm.
Colby Marshall, vice president of the Silvies Valley Ranch where the bulls were killed, thinks it's something else entirely.
"We think that this crime is being perpetuated by some sort of a cult," he said.
Cattle mutilations were reported with rather alarming frequency in the 1970s. So widespread was the fear they caused, even the FBI got involved. From the Midwest to the Great Plains and points beyond, cattle were turning up mutilated in the same way as the recent cases.
As it turns out, the explanation for the cattle mutilations is that they're not being mutilated at all, and that they're not being killed by aliens, cryptids, cultists or vengeful ne'er-do-wells. Rather, they're just dying and decomposing.
When an animal dies, its blood pools at the bottom of the carcass, which then bloats and splits; that split can, to the untrained eye, look like it was carried out with surgical precision. Meanwhile, bugs, carrion birds, and other scavengers go for the bits of the animal that are the softest and the easiest to get to: the soft tissue.