Cattle mutilation is a term that is usually only half-accurate. The cattle portion is correct, except for the few instances involving horse and sheep. The other part of the term is usually mistaken, as what is going on is a meal, not a mutilation.
The term is applied to dead farm animals with allegedly unusual injuries or unexplained features. This is often attributed to either Satanists or aliens. And just imagine what horrors devil-worshipping extraterrestrials could come up with. Other ideas are that it’s being done by the military or by medical mavericks. A few have suggested Chupacabra, but as one of the alleged features is surgical-like precision, this would necessitate a crazed cryptid being handy with a scalpel.
Trademark features are the reportedly medical nature of the mutilation and the complete draining of the animal’s blood. There is also internal organ loss despite no visible entry point, and the lips and genitals are often removed as well. However, all of these have satisfactory explanations.
Scavengers prefer to dine on body parts with thin skin, such as the mouth and reproductive organs. Also partial to these areas are parasites, who can drill their way into the animal most easily from these staring points. And once these parts are eaten or damaged, dehydration will cause them to contract.
Still, there is strong evidence that creatures with bulbous eyes do indeed descend from the sky and do damage. That’s because missing eyes and internal organs are the result of blowflies and other insects feeding on the beasts. Vultures and buzzards join in the feast, targeting the eyes and attacking the mouth and anus to get at the soft internal organs. There is little blood because it settles at the body’s lowest point once the heart stops pumping. Blood on the outside is consumed or dries up.
The apparent surgical incisions happen because postmortem bloat creates tears in the skin, after which the animal’s hide shrinks and splits due to dehydration.
All of this was convincingly demonstrated by the sheriff’s department in Washington County, Arkansas. It placed a dead cow in a field and watched for 48 hours. As expected, bloating led to incision-like tears in the skin. Next, blowflies and maggots came and cleaned out the soft tissue. When all this was complete, the carcass looked exactly like those that had allegedly been zapped by aliens or Satanists.
While usually associated with cattle, the first supposed victim was of the equine variety. Dr. Robert Adams, the veterinarian who examined the case, said it had “no unearthly causes.” His report gained not near as much attention as the original story. Also, there had been reports of bizarre orange triangles in the sky around the same time. These factors led to reports of mutilation in 15 states within a decade, with aliens the usual culprit.
Meanwhile, there were isolated incidents of animal cruelty by derelicts who did more to cows than tip them, but these required no extraordinary explanation. Exhaustive, detailed reports by the FBI and ATF concluded that most of the cases were consistent with scavengers feeding on carrion.
Besides aliens, Satanists, and the military, the one other guess was that these cattle were victims of medical experiments. One hypothesis was that the government was enlisting aliens to test cattle as a way of curing AIDS. This would require ignoring the primate origin that most experts think is the disease’s origin, as well as brushing aside more serious shortcomings. However, I have to this idea a salute. In all my searching into conspiracy theories, this is the first time someone has attributed benevolent behavior to the perpetrators.