1978 Incidents

Home > Operation Animal Mutilation > A Popular History of Livestock Mutilations in New Mexico, Winter 1975 - Spring 1979

In 1978 there was a dramatic increase in the number of reported mutilations. Some of the most publicized cases again occurred within the vicinity of the little community of Dulce. On April 24, the same rancher who had been "victimized" in 1976, found his 11-month-old bull dead, its sex organs and rectum missing. The investigating officer removed the liver "and it was all white and felt like mush" (Thompson 1978a). The Albuquerque Journal referred to the case as a "classic mutilation." Tracks similar to those found in the 1976 case were also reported.

"I'm [investigating officer] confused as hell. Whether it's human or something else, they cut that animal and it was not a cow or horse or predator that left those tracks."

According to the article, no scavengers had even touched the carcass (Thompson 1978a).

This incident was also accompanied by reports of strange lights seen in the vicinity of Dulce at the time the mutilation supposedly took place.

"As in numerous other mutilation cases, there was an unofficial report from a Department of Game and Fish officer of a large orange light in the darkness along a ridge directly south of the meadow" (Thompson 1978a).

To determine the cause of death, the heart muscle and other parts of the bull were taken to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories for analysis. According to an article that appeared in the May 18 issue of the Albuquerque Journal (1978a) the results of the test were inconclusive because of "possible contamination [of the sample] from outside sources." Although not reported until later (see Olson 1978d and Valerio 1979), the bull's liver together with a liver from a healthy animal were also analyzed in a laboratory. In contrast to the "healthy" liver, the bull's liver contained no copper. Instead, it was found to have an unusually high concentration of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous (Olson 1978d).

This case was later described in an article in UFO Report as were two other incidents that were investigated in Dulce that spring (Nelson 1978). In May, a cow belonging to the Jicarilla Apache Tribal Chief of Police was found dead; "its udder had been removed... and there appeared to be bruise marks around the body where several straps had been attached." The article goes on to say that about 100 yards north, the police investigator found "several pairs of perfectly round, deeply imprinted tracks" (Nelson 1978: 26).

A few weeks later, another rancher in the Dulce area reported finding his cow dead and sexually mutilated. According to Nelson, the investigating officer discovered unusual tracks and other evidence to suggest that the animal had been airdropped.

"The round prints were fifty to seventy-five yards away from the carcass in an area of thick sagebrush. He [investigator] also remembers that several branches had been broken off in the treetops above the carcass as if the animal had been brought down through the trees and dropped to the ground. Flies buzzing around the broken tree branches suggested that blood from the carcass had been splattered on the tree tops" (Nelson 1978: 26-27).

On June 14, another mutilated cow was reported in the Dulce area by the same rancher whose bull had allegedly been mutilated in April. The Albuquerque Journal (1978b) describes the victim as a four-year-old Hereford cow. Its udder, rectum and part of the lower lip were reported missing; its legs fractured; and its vertebrae broken. Elsewhere it was claimed that one of its horns had broken off and was sticking in the ground.

The investigating officer told the Journal reporter that the victims are apparently airlifted to a place where they are mutilated, the carcass then being returned to the pasture that night. In the article the officer also discussed the possibility that such livestock are marked ahead of time in order to aid in their identification at night. To test this hypothesis, the lawman announced that he and a retired scientist from Albuquerque were planning to conduct an experiment (Albuquerque Journal 1978b).

This experiment was conducted in Dulce that summer. Its results, when they were released to the press in December, were front page news. The following description is based on an article, "New Findings Deepen Mystery of Mutilations", which was published December 15 in the Albuquerque Journal.

on July 5, approximately 120 cattle belonging to a Dulce rancher were penned in a corral and headed through a squeeze chute under an ultra-violet light. Five animals were found "with a glittery substance on the right side of the neck, the right ear and the right leg." Samples from the affected hide as well as unaffected "control" samples were sent to a laboratory in Albuquerque, which reported that the affected hides contained a significant deposit of magnesium and potassium. Although there was little speculation as to what the substance might be, one of the experimenters noted that "mutilated cattle are generally found lying on their right sides -- the same side the live cattle were 'marked on' " (Thompson 1978b).

This article also reported the results of another test, which seemed to provide further evidence of a link between UFOs and livestock mutilations. According to the article, the Dulce law officer and his Albuquerque collaborator had recently learned that four nights before the July 5 experiment was conducted, a UFO was sighted near Taos. It was reported that three families living three miles northwest of Taos were startled at 12:05 a.m. by "a very bright orange light." The object appeared to be hovering over a fuel tank and a pickup truck, which was parked outside one of the homes. The next morning, "a thin powder was found on the roof of the pickup's cab," which one of the witnesses collected and put in a jar." When the experimentors" learned of this incident, they had a sample of the powder sent to the same laboratory that had run the cowhide tests.

Preliminary analysis of this substance revealed that it contained significant amounts of potassium and magnesium, the same elements found on the hides of the cattle test four nights later Thompson 1978b).

In an article published two weeks later in the Rio Grande Sun, Gail Olson (1978D) makes a further observation that the chemical components found in the affected cowhides and the powder from the Taos "Flying machine" are the same as those found "in the 'white and mushy' liver of a cow which was mutilated near Dulce last April."

As 1978 drew to a close, cattle mutilations were very much in the headlines. Media coverage of the more spectacular New Mexico cases suggested a possible link between UFOs and livestock mutilations. The results of the experiment and related tests seemed to provide further evidence for such a connection. The possible implications of such a connection gave rise to further speculation by the press, particularly in the year that followed.

Home > Operation Animal Mutilation > A Popular History of Livestock Mutilations in New Mexico, Winter 1975 - Spring 1979