Officials have been left scratching their heads after dozens of cows were mutilated and killed in a spate of mystery attacks. Around 40 animals, many of them calves, have now been reported dead with ‘missing tails’ and vicious bite marks from an unknown killer in the US state of Colorado.
Wolves were initially thought to be responsible but now officials in the White River National Forest aren’t so sure.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife region manager Travis Black says teams have found no evidence that wolves were responsible.
“It’s perplexing,” Black said. “We’re scratching our heads a little bit. We don’t know exactly what has occurred up there.”
The manager added that only a few of the cows had injuries that might indicate a wolf attack, and there is no evidence that the wolves ever returned to their prey, which would be unusual unless the pack hunters had been spooked and were too afraid to return.
He said investigators used trail cameras and surveyed the area by flying overhead, but said: “We have no evidence of wolves in that area. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. Sometimes wolves can be difficult to locate.”
The second new possibility is that dogs used to protect livestock might have attacked or startled the cattle, Black claims. But those dogs aren’t generally in the area this time of year.
The lack of definitive proof of the cause has left most in the area scratching their heads.
But not everyone is perplexed. Mr Klinglesmith, who owns LK Ranch with his wife Jackie, however believes all his dead cows were the work of wolves. He added they all suffered extensive trauma and damage to their flanks, bite marks on their heads and faces, some missing and damaged tails, and extensive bruising on both sides.
The rancher then added: “We’re trying to learn how to coexist with wolves like we’re going to need to, but I was preparing to share a calf or two here and there to feed their pack, be compensated, and do what I can to prevent conflict.
“When they come through and slaughter 18 calves and leave them lie, they’re not holding up their end of the deal with coexistence.”
In Colorado, wolves are protected under state law and the federal Endangered Species Act.
Killing one of the animals can result in a $100,000 fine, up to a year in prison and the potential loss of hunting privileges.
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