A $3,000 reward is being offered for information about an outbreak of cattle shootings and mutilations in Idaho's Gem County.
Brand Inspector Lynn Gibson called it the state's worst shooting-mutilation case in years.
"I don't remember anything like it on this scale," he said. "There have been cattle shot here and there, but just one at a time. It's usually just one incident."
Cattle mutilations happen periodically in the West. The worst case was in the 1970s, when hundreds of cows were mutilated in 11 Western states, including Idaho. The killings were alternately blamed on aliens, Satanists and other cults.
There have been two incidents so far. The first is thought to have occurred about April 12, southwest of Emmett. Three calves were shot with a small caliber rifle. One of them was run over with a pickup truck. A cow was shot and mutilated.
"They cut her hind leg and a shoulder off," Gibson said. "They cut out her lungs and skinned off part of her forehead."
The second incident is thought to have happened several days later in the same area. A cow was shot in the face. The bullet broke both of her jawbones.
"She couldn't eat or drink or take care of her babies," Gibson said. "Her tongue was infected, she was choking and she could hardly get around. She had to be put down."
The cattle were valued at about $5,000.
Authorities are mystified by the killings' senselessness.
"If they needed to feed their families, they wouldn't have left the meat to rot," Gibson said. "If it was Satanic, they wouldn't have shot the calves and just let them lie there. And kids wouldn't have any reason to do it because they couldn't brag about it at school."
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