In what could be a plot from an episode of “The X-Files,” the authorities are investigating the mysterious deaths in three Texas counties of six cattle that were found with their tongues missing.
Ranchers found the mutilated remains of a 6-year-old longhorn-cross cow on their property, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook Wednesday.
The office did not say when the cow was discovered but said a “straight, clean cut, with apparent precision, had been made” to remove the hide around its mouth on one side.
The meat under the removed hide was untouched, and the cow’s tongue was gone with no blood spilled, the office said.
There were no signs of a struggle, footprints or tire tracks in the area, said the authorities, who added that the grass around the carcass was undisturbed.
“Ranchers also reported that no predators or birds would scavenge the remains of the cow, leaving it to decay untouched for several weeks,” the sheriff’s office said.
In its investigation in Madison County, which is about 100 miles southeast of Waco, the office said it had learned of five other similar cases that involved four adult cows and one yearling in Brazos and Robertson Counties.
Each of those cases was reported in different locations, pastures and herds.
Though the exact cause of death for the livestock is unknown, each of them was found the same way: on their sides, with the exposed part of their face cut along the jaw line and their tongues removed.
“On two of the five cows, a circular cut was made removing the anus and the external genitalia,” the office said. “This circular cut was made with the same precision as the cuts noted around the jaw lines of each cow.”
Similar deaths have been reported across the country, the authorities said, and the sheriff’s office said it was “coordinating with other agencies to find answers.”
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office did not return calls seeking comment on Saturday.
The latest cases recalled livestock mutilations, including ones in the 1970s, that instilled fear among ranchers across the country.
At least 11 states, including California, Montana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, reported finding dead livestock with their sex organs and tongues missing, The New York Times reported in 1975. At the time, nearly 200 cows, as well as a buffalo, a horse and a goat, were reported to have been found with parts of their carcasses removed.
The unexplained discoveries inspired a groundswell of theories, with some blaming the killings on satanic cultists who were said to use the organs for sacrifices, while others attributed the mutilations to U.F.O.s.
Because no tracks were ever found in the 1970s mystery, one official suggested that a helicopter might have been used in the middle of the night. The authorities encouraged the federal government to look into the killings, but the investigation was eventually closed after failing to turn up any evidence.
More recently in 2019, the authorities struggled to find answers to the discovery of at least five bulls that were found mutilated with their tongues missing in eastern Oregon, The Associated Press reported.