Mysterious Northwest Cattle Mutilations Crop Up Again, This Time With 7 Dead In Central Oregon

A fog of dust is kicked up from hooves as cowboys quietly push cattle into a corral from a big draw on Silvies Valley Ranch near Burns, Oregon. CREDIT: ANNA KING/N3
File photo. A fog of dust is kicked up from hooves as cowboys quietly push cattle into a corral from a big draw on Silvies Valley Ranch near Burns, Oregon. CREDIT: Anna King/N3

READ ON

You can drive an hour on the highway and still be in central Oregon’s Crook County. 

Perhaps, then, it’s easier to understand why patrolling the vast remote region is difficult.

Seven cattle have been found mutilated over the last three months in Crook County and the sheriff’s office is actively investigating and hoping for a break in the case. This follows several recent cases in the past few years in rural Oregon. 

“Well yeah, it makes us angry,” Crook County Undersheriff James Savage told the public media Northwest News Network. “It’s upsetting, because, again, it’s our livelihood. It’s how they make their money and how they feed their families and support themselves. And when this [the killings] is needlessly a waste.”

One dead, mutilated cow was found in late February on private remote ranch land. The sheriff’s office asked ranchers to check animals. Then, six more dead cows turned up sprinkled through the county with missing body parts, according to Savage. He says there’s very little physical evidence. 

The crumpled carcass of a once vibrant bull lays on Forest Service ground. It was killed along with several others in a strange way at Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon, and detectives have few leads. CREDIT: ANNA KING/N3

File photo. The crumpled carcass of a once vibrant bull lays on Forest Service ground in 2019. It was killed along with several others in a strange way at Silvies Valley Ranch in eastern Oregon, and detectives had few leads at the time. CREDIT: Anna King/N3

“In a lot of cases we come down, it’s a burglary or theft or whatever,” Savage says. “We have suspects. We catch something on camera, or someone sees something, or witnesses something. But this is so rural, it’s just very tough to piece it together.”

Other recent cases of cattle mutilation have been reported in Wasco, Umatilla, Harney and Wheeler and Lake counties in the last several years. The sheriffs from several of those counties are trying to coordinate and share information.

“Don’t be afraid to call,” he said. “If you see something, a suspicious vehicle or person in the area, also report it to us so we can try to run that down. [Ranchers] please be vigilant and check on your animals during this time.” 

Similar mysterious cattle mutilations, and those on wildlife like elk and deer, have been going on for decades across the country. The last reported cattle slayings in the nearly 3,000-square-mile Crook County were in the mid-90s, according to Savage.

Anyone with information on these recent cases can contact the sheriff’s office at 541-447-6398 during business hours.

Related Stories:

A sign on the side of trailer in Stevens County, Washington, near Chewelah off U.S. Highway 395 prompts people to report "dangerous wildlife" like cougars and wolves. CREDIT: Scott Leadingham/NWPB

A Wolf In Northeastern Washington Was Killed Illegally. Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

Wolf poachers go mostly undiscovered — but that hasn’t stopped nonprofit organizations from putting up significant cash rewards for information about these incidents. While rewards generally don’t lead to convictions, Defenders of Wildlife’s Gwen Dobbs says reward offers in cases of wildlife poaching can help raise public awareness, “hopefully serving as a deterrent against potential future incidents, even if a reward does not directly lead to a conviction.” Continue Reading A Wolf In Northeastern Washington Was Killed Illegally. Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

A fog of dust is kicked up from hooves as cowboys quietly push cattle into a corral from a big draw on Silvies Valley Ranch near Burns, Oregon. CREDIT: ANNA KING/N3

Possible Investigations Task Force In The Works After More Eastern Oregon Cattle Killings

Two more cattle have been mysteriously killed in rural eastern Oregon. Last summer, five bulls were mysteriously slain in Harney County, Oregon, outside of Burns. Although there are many theories ranging from payback, cults or aliens, there have been few leads on the case despite the offer of a $25,000 reward by Silvies Valley Ranch.

Continue Reading Possible Investigations Task Force In The Works After More Eastern Oregon Cattle Killings