Since at least 1967, reports have surfaced throughout the United States of animals – but, chiefly, cattle – slaughtered in bizarre fashion. Organs are taken and significant amounts of blood are found to be missing. In some cases, the limbs of the cattle are broken, suggesting they have been dropped to the ground from a significant height. Evidence of extreme heat, to slice into the skin of the animals, has been found at mutilation sites. Eyes are removed, tongues are sliced off, and, typically, the sexual organs are gone. While the answers to the puzzle remain frustratingly outside of the public arena, theories abound. They include extraterrestrials, engaged in nightmarish experimentation of the genetic kind; military programs involving the testing of new bio-warfare weapons; occult-based groups that sacrifice the cattle in ritualistic fashion; and government agencies secretly monitoring the food-chain, fearful that something worse than “Mad Cow Disease” may have infected the U.S. cattle herd – and, possibly, as a result, the human population, too. Cattle mutilations are a favorite topic of UFO researchers and conspiracy theorists. From the mid-1970s to the dawning of the 1980s, however, the phenomenon was of varying degrees of concern to another body: the FBI. But, how and why did the FBI get involved? It's an important question that requires an answer.
From January to March 1973, the state of Iowa was hit hard by cattle mutilations. Not only that, many of the ranchers who lost animals reported seeing strange lights and black-colored helicopters in the direct vicinity of the attacks. That the FBI took keen notice of all this is demonstrated by the fact that, as the Freedom of Information Act has shown, it collected and filed numerous media reports on the cattle-mutes in Iowa. The next piece of data dates from early September 1974. That’s when the FBI’s director, Clarence M. Kelley, was contacted by Senator Carl T. Curtis, who wished to inform the Bureau of a wave of baffling attacks on livestock in Nebraska – the state in which Curtis resided and represented. At the time, the FBI declined to get involved, as Director Kelley informed the senator: “It appears that no Federal Law within the investigative jurisdiction of the FBI has been violated, inasmuch as there is no indication of interstate transportation of the maimed animals.”
One year later, in August 1975, Senator Floyd K. Haskell, of Colorado, made his voice known to the FBI, on the growing cattle mutilation controversy: “For several months my office has been receiving reports of cattle mutilations throughout Colorado and other western states. At least 130 cases in Colorado alone have been reported to local officials and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI); the CBI has verified that the incidents have occurred for the last two years in nine states. The ranchers and rural residents of Colorado are concerned and frightened by these incidents. The bizarre mutilations are frightening in themselves: in virtually all the cases, the left ear, rectum and sex organ of each animal has been cut away and the blood drained from the carcass, but with no traces of blood left on the ground and no footprints.”
The senator had much more to say, too: “In Colorado’s Morgan County area there has [sic] also been reports that a helicopter was used by those who mutilated the carcasses of the cattle, and several persons have reported being chased by a similar helicopter. Because I am gravely concerned by this situation, I am asking that the Federal Bureau of Investigation enter the case. Although the CBI has been investigating the incidents, and local officials also have been involved, the lack of a central unified direction has frustrated the investigation. It seems to have progressed little, except for the recognition at long last that the incidents must be taken seriously. Now it appears that ranchers are arming themselves to protect their livestock, as well as their families and themselves, because they are frustrated by the unsuccessful investigation. Clearly something must be done before someone gets hurt.”
Again, the FBI declined to get involved in the investigation of the phenomenon. It was a stance the FBI stuck to (despite collecting numerous, nationwide newspaper and magazine articles on the subject) until 1978. That was when the FBI learned of an astonishing number of horse and cattle mutilations in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico – mutilations which actually dated back to 1976. They had all been scrupulously investigated and documented by Police Officer Gabe Valdez of Espanola. It was when the FBI was contacted by New Mexico Senator Harrison Schmitt (also the twelfth person to set foot on the Moon – in December 1972), who implored the FBI to get involved, that action was finally taken. In March 1979, Assistant Attorney General Heymann prepared a summary on the New Mexico cases for the FBI, and – for good measure – photocopied all of Officer Valdez’s files to the Bureau’s director. Things were about to be taken to a new level, files were about to be scrutinized, and investigations were soon to follow. And, for the FBI, that's pretty much how it all began.