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Glen and Ruby Bouma show the carcass of a yearling steer that was mutilated in 2001 on their farm about 8 miles west of Conrad. The injuries were similar to those sustained by a cow in Meagher County recently. (FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF PONDERA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OF)
By KIM SKORNOGOSKI • Tribune Staff Writer • December 12, 2010
There were just a few drops of blood around the cow — hardly what was expected considering the tongue and udder were removed and the flesh and tissue scraped clean to the bone.
In the days before its death, the cow showed no signs of being sick. The tongue and udder looked like they had been cut with precision — not ripped as a predator would do.
"I reached out to everybody I know to try to get an explanation," Meagher County Sheriff Jon Lopp said. "Everybody's got a theory — from insects to UFOs. I've actually read a lot about it. I'm still as confused as I was when I started."
Though this incident was the first time Lopp has seen a cow mutilated in such a strange manner, it's been going on elsewhere for decades.
In England, accounts of mutilated cows, horses and goats date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first reports in America surfaced in Pennsylvania and Kansas in the 1960s.
Montana's first known similar incident was a Sand Coulee steer in late August 1974. By December 1977, sheriff's deputies had investigated 67 mutilation cases in Cascade, Judith Basin, Chouteau, Teton and Pondera counties.
The hallmarks of these incidents are the almost surgically precise removal of reproductive organs, udders, anuses, teats and tongues with very little bleeding. Flesh around the jaw often is removed, exposing the mandible. Sometimes, internal organs are removed with no obvious points of entry.
Lopp found no human or animal tracks around the dead cow, and no signs of a struggle — just like in the other mutilated cow cases. However, the ground was hard when the cow was discovered in late October, and there was no snow on the ground.
After asking around, Lopp learned of another Meagher County rancher who several years ago had three cows die in a similar fashion within a few months of each other.
Over the years, explanations have included the legendary Chupacabra, extraterrestrials, secretive government programs and satanic cults.