Death, mutilation of bulls in Harney County spurs probe


By Sierra Dawn McClain, Capital Press 

Aug 2, 2019


Five bulls were found dead and mutilated — with genitals and tongues cut out — on Silvies Valley Ranch in Harney County, Ore.


Two carcasses were discovered July 30. On July 31, three more carcasses were found. The smell of decomposing bodies gave them away. 


The cause of death is unknown, but investigators suspect one or more people are responsible.


The Harney County Sheriff’s Office has named Deputy Dan Jenkins as the primary investigator for the case. The Oregon State Police and the Malheur National Forest Emigrant Creek Ranger District are also investigating.


“I got stuck with the case,” Jenkins said. He laughed wryly. “And it’s a mystery.”


As an isolated incident, the case might appear a strange fluke. But according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, thousands of killings and mutilations of cows have happened since the 1970s. The animals typically die in the same way with the same body parts removed.


Jenkins said it’s hard to tell how these five bulls died. There are no entry wounds. A metal detector revealed no bullets.


According to climate data from the National Weather Service, the past month has had no major lightning storms in the area that could have killed cattle.


Colby Marshall, vice president of Silvies Valley Ranch, said there were no outward signs of a struggle — no rope burns on trees, no scattered hoof prints, no strangulation marks. The bulls, he said, look like they simply fell over and died.


“Maybe they were poisoned,” said Jenkins. But if they were, it could not have happened by natural causes. Jenkins said Ty Campbell, the property owner’s son, along with Clint Weaver, the cow boss, scoured the property looking for poisonous plants but found none.


Jenkins said a necropsy to find out the cause of death was not possible because when the bulls were found, they were already past the 24-hour window when a veterinary inspection would have been effective.


Marshall, the ranch’s vice president, said...