‘Not One Drop Of Blood’: Cattle Are Being Mysteriously Mutilated And Killed In Eastern Oregon
By Anna King, Jefferson Public Radio
Sep 14, 2019
Outside of Pendleton, Oregon, Terry Anderson’s cattle have messed up his irrigation spigots. Again.
The cows knock them down pretty much daily, and he has to fix ‘em. He jumps out of his side-by-side vehicle and deftly rights them again or screws on a new spigot if they’re really bad.
“Cows just rub on stuff for the heck of it,” Terry Anderson says with a smile. “They love to scratch.”
Not One Drop Of Blood
Right now in remote eastern Oregon, a serial crime spree is unfolding. Young purebred bulls are mysteriously showing up dead. Cowboys recently found several animals with body parts precisely removed — and it’s happened just like this before in the West.
It happened to Anderson back in the 1980s, when one of the rancher’s mother cows was mysteriously killed overnight. From his homeplace, Anderson points to the exact spot where he found her on top of a mountain. He’s never gotten over it.
As he remembers, Anderson says he had just been near the spot the night before. The next morning, his cow was laid over and dead, her udder removed with something razor sharp.
“And not one drop of blood anywhere,” Anderson says.
Over 200 miles away — outside Princeton, Oregon — Andie Davies is canning green chili peppers in her remote ranch kitchen. The air smells spicy, warm. She wipes her strong, working hands before giving a shake.
Another cut up and bloodless cow was found two years ago a mile from her homeplace. A hunter discovered the carcass near a water trough, just hours after the kill.
Her son, a butcher at the time, inspected the slain animal. He couldn’t understand how the cuts were made so clean.
Davies says she and her husband rode strategic circles around the area with four wheelers to try and find vehicle tracks, horse tracks, something. They never found any. And in this country, “everything you do leaves tracks,” Davies says.
Silvies Valley Ranch
Over an hour away, north of Burns, cowboys whistle and talk low to eager cattle dogs.
Dust from hooves, both cloven and shod, creates a fog in the early light. As they gather the cow-calf pairs out of a large draw, the animals call to each other.
Silvies Valley Ranch is nearly the size of Chicago. This summer, five young purebred bulls were cut down in their prime. Colby Marshall, is the vice president of the ranch.
To understand better, we rattle up a two-track U.S. Forest Service road.
“And we’re gonna drive in here,” Marshall says, “oh a little ways and then we’ll get out and take a little walk to where one the bulls was found. And the carcass is still there.”
These animals were found bloodless, with their tongues and genitals precisely removed.
Coming upon one of the dead bulls is an eerie scene. The forest is hot and still, apart from a raven’s repeating caw. The bull looks like a deflated plush toy. It smells. Weirdly, there are no signs of buzzards, coyotes or other scavengers. His red coat is as shiny as if he was going to the fair.
Marshall says these young animals were just reaching their top value as breeding bulls. Now the animals worth as much as $7,000 dollars each, and their collective future progeny worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, are lost.
Finding these rangey young Hereford bulls in this remote country can sometimes take the ranch’s experienced cowboys days. Marshall suspects a coordinated effort.
“It’s rugged,” Marshall says. “I mean this is the frontier. … If some person, or persons, has the ability to take down a 2,000-pound range bull, you know, it’s not inconceivable that they wouldn’t have a lot of problems dealing with a 180-pound cowboy.”
Staff are now required to ride in pairs, and encouraged to carry arms.
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