Ontario, STAR, 8 September 1976, page 39
predatory animals for cattle mutilation but humans involved
DENVER (AP) - Ranchers armed themselves against an unknown
enemy. Rural residents who never had locked their doors
bought padlocks. Helicopters with beacons trained on the
ground were reported flying over pastureland.
It's not a scene from a 1950s cut-rate horror movie. That's
the way it was last summer: fear and anger in the cattle
country of eastern Colorado and other western states because
of unsubstantiated reports that somebody was mutilating
cattle and other animals.
A year later, the mystery remains unresolved, but the furore
is gone, despite a few reports of new "mutilations."
The president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Association says
he feels there is "enough scientific data to put the
idea of mutilations to rest." But local sheriffs remain
The Colorado Bureau of Investigations continues an investigation
of the situation, but has turned up no human suspects. Acting
director Carl Whiteside says investigators so far have come
up with no motive for the mutilations if, in fact, there
were any. There is considerable evidence that predators,
mostly coyotes, picked over the remains of dead animals.
somebody were interested in animal parts, they could go
to a rendering plant and get them for nothing," Whiteside
The mutilation saga started in Colorado on a spring night
last year when a rancher found the shell of a dead cow,
its tongue, sex organs, rectum and other body parts apparently
Similar reports began to pour in from the state's eastern
plains and dominated the front pages and many newspapers.
Denver Post and eight organizations offered a $13,000 reward
for information leading to the apprehension of mutilators.
The Post didn't receive a single response.
It was suggested to Whiteside's office that the cause of
the mutilations might be satanic rites or college fraternities
or even creatures from outer space. But Whiteside says the
facts point to predators, not humans or Martians.
More than 200 cases of suspected cattle mutilations were
reported in Colorado alone last year. This year, Howard
Gillespie, currently in charge of the CBI investigation,
says he has received only three official reports of mutilations.
conducted 37 examinations of hide samples," Gillespie
said. "Of those, we've determined that two had been
cut with a sharp instrument and 35 had been chewed by some
type of predator."
Officials in the diagnostic laboratory at Colorado State
University in Fort Collings, Colo. agree. A spokesman said
only 11 "definite mutilations" were found last
year, while the number has dropped to two or three this
Authorities in Wyoming, where more than 100 cases of mutilations
have been reported in a year, say 99 of the cases definitely
were the work of other animals.
Dr. H. A. Hancock of the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory
noted that cuts in animal hides caused by predators can
look "surgically straight."
Robert Burghart Jr. of Colorado Springs, Colo., who heads
the state cattlemen's association, blames the "confirmed"
mutilations on pranksters who read or heard news stories
there have been mutilations, they were done by pranksters
working on dead animals."
Last summer, Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm called the mutilations
"one of the greatest outrages in the history of the
western cattle industry." He pledged the full resources
of the state to arrest the persons responsible. Lamm backed
down after results of various studies were released.
But there are enough local officials still convinced there
are human culprits involved to keep the controversy flickering.
One such official is Logan County Undersheriff Jerry Wolever.
"We attempted to co-operate with the CBI, but we didn't
get satisfactory answers," Wolever said. "We're
open to any and all suggestions. Anyone could be right."
But Wolever discounts the predator theory.
Sheriff George Yarnell of Elbert County, hardest hit last
year with 63 reported mutilations, says he has had six mutilations
reported to him since March and he doesn't believe they
And then there's Sheriff Harry L. (Tex) Graves of Logan
He said it's likely the CBI and lab officials would conclude
the county's latest mutilation discovered in late July,
was the work of predators, even though all the cow's teeth
had been cut out with surgical precision.
a coyote in northeastern Colorado wearing a necklace made
from cow's teeth to take back to his den-hand; maybe he
collected the teeth to take back to his dentistry class."