cattle

A fog of dust is kicked up from hooves as cowboys quietly push cattle into a corral from a big draw on Silvies Valley Ranch near Burns, Oregon, in 2019.
Two more cattle have been mysteriously killed in rural eastern Oregon. This follows a number of unexplained killings of cattle in the region over the past year.

A black-coated cow was found dead in July outside of Fossil, found sitting with her legs tucked under her body with her head off the ground. Pictures show her eyes bulging out with flies around the body. The cow's tongue and genitals were removed.

"It was a clean cut, so it wasn't wildlife," Wheeler County Sheriff's deputy Jeremiah Holmes said. "There were upwards of 80 cows milling around there ... so signs of tire tracks, boot tracks were pretty much non-existent." Holmes later followed up with the Northwest News Network to say there was no official cause of death determined yet, but a "partial boot print" was found about 100 yards from the cow.

It follows another killing near Condon, Oregon, in March. A Hereford bull was found dead, lying on its side in a remote draw, its sex organs and tongue removed. The rancher who found his animal described cuts so precise no blood was on the bull's white underbelly.

Holmes, working the case near Fossil, says his department is trying to assemble a statewide task force to address recent killings.

Last summer, five bulls were mysteriously slain in Harney County, Oregon, outside of Burns. Although there are many theories ranging from payback, cults or aliens, there have been few leads on the case despite the offer of a $25,000 reward by Silvies Valley Ranch.

"We are in the works of reaching out to the neighboring counties, so that when these happen there would be a group that would go to these consistently," Holmes said. "Hopefully the communication line will open up a little bit. So that we're all aware of what's happening in other counties."

Holmes says he hopes ranchers and residents will be aware of vehicles parked in strange places. He says a licence plate and a date and time could help officers a lot.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.