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In 2013, I wrote an article here at Mysterious Universe titled “Cattle Mutilations in the UK?” The article began as follows: (QUOTE) “Back in January of this year I gave a lecture for the Orange County, California chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, MUFON. While there, a member of the audience asked me if there had ever been any reports of cattle mutilations in the UK, where I was born and brought up. When I asked the man if he meant mutilations of animals by what might be perceived as extraterrestrials, he replied: ‘Yes.’ Well, that’s a tricky one to answer. In my books There’s Something in the Woods and Monster Diary, I discussed a variety of highly disturbing animal mutilation events in the UK. Some of those cases involved sheep. In other cases, cats were the victims. And in a few, horses were the unlucky ones.” (END OF QUOTE)


In the various cases I investigated (primarily, but not exclusively, in the 1990s and early 2000s), I came away pretty much convinced that all the really weird attacks were the work of the likes of cults and occultists. Although, as a teenager in the 1980s, I did pick up a copy of Mystery Stalks the Prairie, a 1976 book written by Roberta Donovan and Keith Wolverton. It was definitely a book that made me suspect UFOs were behind the strange killings. But, that was then. Today, my views are far more down to earth – namely that those aforementioned cults are at the heart of things. Plus, not too long ago I was given a lengthy and very disturbing account that linked the cattle mutes to the theories of Colm Kelleher – namely, that there is a connection between the mutes and the rise in Alzheimer’s Disease in the US. It’s an account I’ll share in the near future.

But, back to the UK. While I don’t personally adhere to the theory/belief-system that the UK mutes are the work of ETs, some do. One of those is Mike Freebury. I met Freebury for the first time just a couple of months ago, when I was back in the UK for two weeks. He is the author of a 2011 book titled Killers on the Moor. It’s a 252-pages-long book that looks deeply in the matter of mutes in the UK. If the animal mutilation issue interests you, then you really should get a copy of Killers on the Moor. Regardless of whether you are of the opinion that aliens, wild animals, government conspiracies, or cults are the culprits, Freebury’s book is important, as it’s the only one ever written on the subject of UK-based animal mutilations.

Mike Freebury

Mike Freebury

The primary focus of the book is a strange affair from 1977, when a number of ponies were found dead on the wilds of Dartmoor, England – hence the title of the book. It’s a story that often does the rounds in UK Forteana. In all probability, it will never go away. Freebury writes in an entertaining style, and he captures the eerie nature of Dartmoor well. He is also someone for whom the ET angle is the only one that makes sense when it comes to the bizarre mutilations and deaths.

Killers on the Moor is a very thought-provoking read and is filled with hitherto unknown cases, as well as somewhat well-known ones which are revisited. As the story progresses, we see it encompass the likes of black helicopters, crop circles, alleged “messages” from aliens, government conspiracies, strange creatures, and a great deal more. Personally, I would have much preferred something along the lines of Chris O’Brien’s Stalking the Herd, which tackles – in-depth – all of the theories and in extensive fashion. But, this is not my story to tell. Rather, it’s the story of a man who personally dug deep into the puzzle and reached his own alien-themed conclusion as a result. In other words, whether you agree with Freebury’s conclusions or not, his book is not based around armchair research: the story makes it clear that nearly all of his work was undertaken in the field, so to speak.


There are, however, those who have significant reservations about some of the material in the book. One of them is Jon Downes of the Center for Fortean Zoology (curiously mistakenly referenced in the book as the Crypto Zoologist Foundation). Jon – who was personally involved in investigating some of the cases in Killers on the Moorsays of Freebury’s book:

“It is very well produced, and Freebury is an engaging, likeable and witty writer, and his tale of investigating animal mutilations at home and abroad is well written and enjoyable. However, and this is such a big however that it needs to be printed: There are some unforgivable mistakes. Alarm bells began ringing in my mind as soon as I started reading his account of the Newquay Zoo animal mutilations of 1977, and more specifically the involvement of the late Mrs Joan Amos in investigating them. I knew Joan quite well, and I am certain that she told me that she had not investigated the matter for herself, but had only received the documents and information third hand via a contact in the Plymouth UFO Group. I published a lengthy account of the case in The Owlman and Others (first published 1997), in which I put at least one of the outstanding queries to bed. The lumps on the jaws of the wallabies were due to an infection by Fusobacterium necrophorous, a condition known colloquially as ‘lumpy jaw.’ It is a well-known condition in captive marsupials and not at all mysterious or sinister.”

In other words, certain data is not so clear-cut as it might appear to be at first glance. Had Jon Downes not made his comments about the wallaby deaths, we might well have remained oblivious to far more down-to-earth explanations. That’s why, in my opinion, I would have preferred something that wasn’t so ET-driven and which addressed other theories to notable degrees. But, as I said above, this is the only full-length book on animal mutilations in the UK. For that reason, if mutes are your thing, you should read it. Be aware, though, that the theory which suggests the UK mutes are the work of aliens is simply that: a theory. Until, or unless, that situation changes Killers on the Moor will likely remain a book that will polarize people into various camps and create a high degree of controversy, depending on their beliefs. As all mute-themed books have consistently done.


Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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