(March 16, 1998) -- Unusual livestock deaths involving apparent surgical mutilation have been reported every year since the mid-1960s in many parts of the Unites States and several foreign countries. Over time, the seemingly inexplicable nature of the mutilations, the inability of law enforcement to apprehend even one perpetrator, and the occasional evidence of UFO activity in proximity to the dead animals has reinforced the belief among some researchers that this phenomenon is the work of alien visitors. Efforts to dispel this notion by proving a more prosaic cause have thus far failed.
In the great majority of cases, the mutilated animals die during spring, summer or fall -- after the spring thaw and before the first freeze of autumn. However, in the fabled San Luis Valley of Colorado, several horses have fallen victim to the mystery mutilators during the winter of 1997-98.
The most recent case occurred in early March on a ranch some ten miles south of Alamosa, Colorado, near the Rio Grande River.
According to noted San Luis Valley investigator Chris O'Brien, a six year-old white gelding named Skip, called by its owner "the head of the herd" of 16 horses, was found dead on March 5. The carcass was in an area of land not frequented by the herd. The temperature had been in the single digits at the time the animal was probably killed.
Rancher Kim Miller told O'Brien that the horse was laying on its left side and was missing the flesh around the left mandible, its right ear and its genitalia. The ear was removed in a three-inch diameter circle. Miller told O'Brien that the horse also had a "baseball-sized hole in the brisket," or chest area, from which the rancher believed the animal's heart was removed. The animal showed signs of agitation prior to death -- there was evidence of substantial sweat on the hide -- but there were no tracks at all anywhere around the carcass.
O'Brien met rancher Miller at the site on the morning of March 6 and sent the following details to CNI News.
"As we drove across the field toward the carcass in two trucks, the remaining fifteen horses in the herd came galloping toward us from the far southeastern end of the three-square-mile pasture," O'Brien said. "Miller noted that the herd was 'still very agitated' and was exhibiting unusual behavior."
Miller said, "I've been running them out in this field for three years and they've never acted like this before... they're trying to tell us something."
O'Brien says he found the dead horse "lying in a dry, undisturbed alkaloid flat. The carcass exhibited apparent evidence of being killed by knowledgeable, proficient professionals. The softball-sized brisket hole was especially impressive. A 12-inch plug of brisket/muscle had been completely removed with not a single spilled drop of blood.
"The mandible and penis removal operation left irrefutable signs of a sharp scalpel-like cutting instrument. The course winter coat, about 2-1/2 inches in length, had been cut to 1/8th of an inch around the upper muzzle portion of the mandible excision. The cut hair evidence was unmistakable, and no scavenger or predator could possibly have done this. The perpetrator was probably right-handed, and began the mandible cut at the top of the jaw, circling clockwise down the muzzle, and then around the snout and the bottom of the jaw."
O'Brien says he took three sets of tissue samples for testing. He says the samples will be sent to "a veterinarian pathology department, the Rocky Ford State Pathology lab, and a noted hemotologist in Denver."
Two other elements of the scene were especially notable. First was the evidence of the animal's apparent agitation, contrasted with the complete lack of tracks.
"A large amount of dried sweat laid the course winter hair flat," O'Brien says. "The rancher noted that this indicated that the horse had been running, and he was convinced that the horse had been chased by the perpetrators." But a complete search of the surrounding area failed to turn up any animal or human tracks.
Also notable and mysterious was the fact that the carcass attracted several dozen eagles. "Three to four dozen eagles together for any reason is highly unusual," O'Brien says. "Neither the rancher nor myself can explain this and do not know if this is important."
By the time he arrived on the scene, "the eagles had already eviscerated the rear-end and most of the lower internal organs, but seemed to have stayed away from the head, although the upside right eye had been pecked out."
This case raises questions that have puzzled researchers and infuriated ranchers for decades. How can an animal as large as a horse be killed and surgically mutilated without leaving any tracks? How can the surgery be performed on the open range, in the dead of night, with such precision and lack of blood? What is the purpose of taking just the few organs and tissues that are missing? And who is doing it?
The mutilations continue. The mystery remains.
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Original file name: CNI - SLV Horse Mute
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