Colorado cow mutilations baffle ranchers, cops, UFO believer
Source : http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13956752
Manuel Sanchez tucks his leathery hands into well-worn pockets and nods toward a cedar tree where, last month, he found his fourth mysteriously slaughtered calf in as many weeks.
"I have no idea what could do this. I wish I did," he says.
Four calves, all killed overnight. Their innards gone. Tongues sliced out. Udders carefully removed. Facial skin sliced and gone. Eyes cored away. Not a single track surrounding the carcasses, which were found in pastures locked behind two gates and a mile from any road. Not a drop of blood on the ground or even on the remaining skin.
In his life in the piρon-patched pastures where his father and grandfather raised cattle, the 72-year-old Sanchez has seen mountain lions and coyotes kill cattle, elk and deer. He's seen birds scavenge carcasses. He's heard of thieves slaughtering livestock in the field for their meat. He can't explain what he saw last month.
"A lion will drag its kill. Coyotes rip and tear flesh. These were perfect cuts like with a laser or like a scalpel. And what would take the waste all the guts and leave the nice, tender meat?" Sanchez says, as he nudges his old Ford through rutted trails, rosary beads swinging from his rearview mirror. "No tracks. No blood. No nothing. I got nothing to go by. They don't leave no trace."
Every rancher who has reported similar cattle deaths and there have been at least eight such deaths in southern Colorado this year uses the same description.
"They just stripped this one," says Tom Miller, who in March was one of three ranchers near Trinidad who discovered mutilated cattle.
Cow raises the alarm
One morning, he went out to his concrete troughs to feed his herd of about 80 red and black Angus cows and calves. The herd was racing about. A cow that a week before had birthed a calf was bellowing, "raising all kind of devil," Miller says.
The remains of a calf killed on Manuel Sanchez's ranch show the killer's odd predilection for entrails. (Photo courtesy of Chuck Zukowski)
There by the trough past the locked gate a quarter-mile from U.S. 350 east of Hoehne was the calf. Its front legs and torso were gone. Its back legs were hanging by hide to a shattered pelvis and a meatless backbone. Miller thought a pack of coyotes had torn into the calf the night before.
Then he saw the ears: sliced off the head in circular, surgical-like cuts. He noticed that there were no tracks. And no blood anywhere.
"If anyone can show me how this happened, I will believe them. I know it's not coyotes, especially in one night. Only a human or something like that can cut the ears like that," says Miller, a 72-year-old rancher who was raised on the prairie bordering the Purgatoire River.
"If it was done by people, they sure went out of their way to bother and confuse me. And really, why? It doesn't make any sense."
Colorado Brand Inspector Dennis Williams came out and looked at Miller's calf. He lives next door; the calf would be the last of three strangely mutilated cattle that he would investigate in March of this year.
"I've heard about it. It was weird, to say the least. Totally unexplainable. To me, it looked like that calf had been dropped from a high distance, the way its hips were dislocated and all its broken bones," Williams says.
That same month, ranchers had called Williams to grisly scenes northeast of Aguilar and west of Weston to investigate mysteriously mangled cattle that had been seen healthy the day before.
To add to the weirdness, Sanchez, Miller and Mike Duran, who found a sliced Red Angus cow near Weston in March, have all experienced similar mutilations before. Sanchez lost cows in 2006 and 1993, Miller in 1997 and 1980, and Duran in 2000 and 1995.
"It's weird and unexplainable," says Duran, who lost a healthy 27-year-old Red Angus cow on March 8, her udder and rear end removed with what he describes as "laser cuts, like when somebody cuts metal with a torch."
Cops, like Williams and the ranchers, are stumped.
"We can't come up with anything," says Las Animas County sheriff's Deputy Derek Navarette, who investigated the Miller and Duran calves.
"We've seen these before and they are all kind of the same. No one has ever explained it. Northern New Mexico has had some of these same cases, and in those cases they never got any further than we did."
Predators ruled out
Chuck Zukowski of Colorado Springs investigated three of the eight mutilated cows in southern Colorado this year. The amateur UFO investigator and reserve deputy in El Paso County documents each scene, testing for radiation and scanning carcasses with ultraviolet light.
Despite his extraterrestrial inclinations, Zukowski's studies found on his ufonut.com website fall short of concluding anything paranormal. He seems certain all the animals he studied were killed and drained before they were sliced, which explains the lack of blood found near the animals.
The way the tongues were sliced off in straight lines back behind the teeth indicates it is not a predator kill, he says.
"I'm looking for obvious things," Zukowski says. "I don't like to say aliens did it. There are just too many unknowns. I like to lean on human intervention until I actually see a UFO come down and take a cow."
Sanchez is a salt-of-the-earth-type fellow who put three kids through college running cattle. Yet, he says he and his wife marveled at incandescent blue lights hovering over a ridge near his pastures in July and August. He declined to speculate about the lights.
"I just say the truth and that's what I saw," he says.
Duran, on the other hand, is willing to take the next step. He's looked at it from every angle, he says. If it wasn't human and wasn't a predator, he says, there's only one other option.
"I do believe it was UFOs. This universe is so big, a lot of people think we are the only ones here," he says, declining to guess why aliens harbor such bloody disdain for bovines.
"I bet there is something out there."
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