Surgical precision of cattle mutilations baffles investigators


Cattle mutilations have been reported in every state in the U.S. and yet there is still no logical explanation for why it happens. The animals are carved with surgical precision which creates more of a mystery. Investigative reporter George Knapp reports. Aired on Feb. 7, 1999, on KLAS TV in Las Vegas.

Nevada is still cattle country with more than 500,000 head scattered over the vast rangelands of the state. Even in southern counties, it’s not unusual to see scenes reminiscent of a John Ford Western. But when the sun goes down, death comes calling.

Seven times in the past few years someone or something has crept into the fields of this ranch near Battle Mountain and carved up cattle with surgical precision.

Lander County lawmen are as baffled as their counterparts around the country. They have few clues, no motive and no suspects. An official from the Lander County Sheriff’s Office said the incidents “could be considered rustling.” But investigations have revealed no evidence about what happened or how it happened.

An official said there were no tracks, no signs of a disturbance, no blood and the cuts were very unusual – not the type associated with predators

Former state Senator Floyd Lamb has been ranching in nearby Lincoln County for most of his life. Twice, his prize bulls have been taken, cut up and dumped by unknown perpetrators. Several of his neighbors have also been victimized.

“That’s a crazy thing,” Lamb said. “I don’t know what that is but they’ll take a bull, a male bull and cut him all up and dissect him and I don’t know what, I don’t know. I don’t understand that. Some kook.”

A kook who can immobilize large animals without making any noise, slice them up, drain them of blood, leave no tracks, then disappear. Nevada cases date back at least the ‘70s. Recent mutilations have occurred in neighboring Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. The parts taken include eyes, ears, sex organs and tongues.

“There’s no obvious indication that this would have anything to do with food,” said Colm Kelleher. “The beef is never touched except on rare occasions.”

Kelleher works for the National Institute for Discovery Science based in Las Vegas, the only scientific organization in the country that is seriously pursuing the mutilation mystery. The institute invites ranchers to call and report mutilations. Teams are then dispatched, samples are taken and analyzed. Answers though are hard to come by.

“Nobody has been charged, nobody has been caught,” Kelleher said. “Now, you expect people eventually to make mistakes. You expect people, you know, drinking in a bar, they start boasting about what they’ve been doing. There is somebody out there who is highly-skilled in surgery using sharp instruments. They’ve been doing animal mutilations.”

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