Moo? Moo.

You know who else is always baffled, along with doctors? Apparently: Ranchers, cops, and a UFO believer. Cattle mutilations in Colorado! Woohoo! And on the front page of today’s Denver Post.

I hadn’t realized it, but apparently we have our own tradition of whacky cattle mutilation tall tales in Colorado. “Phantom Surgeons of the Plains” certainly has a nice ring to it. Though what I find quite interesting here is that the “UFO Investigator” that has been looking at these seems fairly convinced himself that it’s not UFOs, but humans.

“I’m looking for obvious things,” Zukowski says. “I don’t like to say aliens did it. There are just too many unknowns. I like to lean on human intervention until I actually see a UFO come down and take a cow.”

Well, you certainly have to give him credit for that. I actually feel very charmed that he’s looking for a mundane explanation instead of immediately concluding that it was aliens because no one knows exactly what was happening. I’ve gotten the impression that it’s a fairly unusual attitude to have.

The one picture that’s on the article (which is fairly gross) isn’t really good enough to even begin to make guesses. I’d be curious to know what’s giving this impression, though:

“It’s weird and unexplainable,” says Duran, who lost a healthy 27-year-old Red Angus cow on March 8, her udder and rear end removed with what he describes as “laser cuts, like when somebody cuts metal with a torch.”

Were there apparent burns, or is he just sticking with the meme that only human intervention can cause cuts to appear straight or precise? If nothing else, the icky picture looks like the carcass has started to decompose, and depending on the weather out here, that’ll either mean that it’s going to bloat or dehydrate, or do a weird combination of the two. That alone would probably alter the appearance of wounds on an animal.

Also, much is made about the udders, the eyes, and the missing entrails; that’s all pretty standard, and the best explanation for that is often that insects like eating the wobbly bits instead of chewing through leather. Which is fair enough. I don’t like chewing on leather, myself. From the article (though it’s hard to tell) it doesn’t sound like the calf that was found right away was missing the squishy bits. In the end, it may not be possible to say exactly what killed these cows. But like most mutilation cases, leaping to the alien conclusion is a big, big leap. Dead things look weird when you’ve let them sit out for a bit, so that even natural causes start looking decidedly unnatural to anyone that’s not a forensic scientist. There are predators around of the four-legged variety, and possibly of the two-legged variety that widen the prospects of just how weird things might look.

I find it sadly ironic that the UFO investigator says that he doesn’t think it was UFOs, but one of the ranchers apparently does:

“I do believe it was UFOs. This universe is so big, a lot of people think we are the only ones here,” he says, declining to guess why aliens harbor such bloody disdain for bovines.

“I bet there is something out there.”

Something that really, really hates cows, apparently.

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