The case of two cows found dead and mutilated has authorities in Jackson County, Ga., baffled. With both cows, there was no discernible cause of death and the animals had a complete circle cleanly cut around the rectal area, the Augusta Chronicle reports. Of the first cow, found Dec. 16, rancher Harold Edge tells the Chronicle, "I've messed with cows my whole life and she showed no sign of being sick." Officials at the University of Georgia later determined the cow was not diseased. The second cow was found Jan. 6. Edge ruled out the possibility of an animal attack causing the deaths. "There would be other markings on them," he says, "but there are no marks except around the rear end."
But Edge did say he was told that someone may kill a cow for specific parts, like the kidneys, and those may be accessible via the rectum. There also have been recent unexplained cow mutilations in Kansas and Missouri, KSHB reports. On Dec. 18 in Newton, Kan., a bull was found mutilated. Ten days later, two cows in Platte County, Mo., were reportedly discovered "killed and gutted." On New Year's Day in Canton, Kan., a cow was found dead, and its owner tells KSHB that "the eye had been removed, as well as the eyelashes on the top and bottom both." For some old-timers, the mutilations are reminiscent of a rash of similar occurrences in the 1970s, when thousands of cattle and other livestock were found dead and mutilated, the AP reports. Theories seeking to explain the mutilations, per the AP, range from wild animals to the government and extraterrestrials. (In South Carolina, someone killed more than 300,000 chickens.)