In eastern Oregon, Hereford bulls are dying. Five have been found within 1.5 miles of each other on the Silvies Valley Ranch. The animals are missing organs and blood, yet there are no tracks nearby. Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Jenkins is asking the public for clues as to what, or who, might be killing cattle.
Theories about the mysterious carcasses range from flesh-eating bugs to revenge-seeking people. One person suggested that Jenkins look for craters underneath the carcasses. The person said craters would be evidence the bulls had been levitated into a spaceship, mutilated, and then dropped back to the ground. Huh?
Some of the damage on the Oregon bulls is clearly due to God-created natural causes. Experts say an animal carcass bloats; the skin dries out and splits. Those tears often appear as purposeful cuts.
If people killed the bulls, one motive could be to financially harm the 140,000-acre ranch. Dave Bohnert of Oregon State University says breeding bulls cost thousands of dollars each, and the 100-plus calves each of them might sire are worth much more.
The Silvies Valley bulls were found over several days in July. But Jenkins still has no reliable leads. Now the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible. The ranch is offering $25,000.
Silvies Valley Ranch Vice President Colby Marshall doubts the killings are an attack on the ranch. But he does believe someone is going to a lot of trouble to get bull parts.
“To lose a completely healthy animal would be an oddity,” says Marshall. “To lose five young, very healthy, in great shape, perfect bulls that are all basically the same age . . . that is so outside the bounds of normal activity.”
(A cow peers from safe behind a fence. Some of its cattle cousins aren't so blessed. AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)