Bizarre cattle mutilations - in which the animals' reproductive organs have been cut away - don't intimidate rancher Tom Williams, although such incidents frighten several of his friends.
Williams, who owns a cattle ranch about 10 miles south of Malad, has lost two animals to mutilation in the last couple of years. The most recent one was killed last month about a mile from his home.He and others suspect the animals' organs are used in satanic cult rituals. Mutilations have been occurring in the area for about 10 years, he says. There have been news reports in the past of such occurrences, though responsibility has never been fixed.
About two years ago, one of his cows was killed about one-eighth of a mile from Williams' home. A circular incision was made on its stomach and the animal's heart, entrails, ears and tail were taken.
The next year, Williams kept an extra close eye on his livestock and nothing happened. This year, once he relaxed his guard again, he lost an animal.
Reported mutilation incidents share some similarities: the animals didn't struggle, no footprints were ever found around the animals, there was no blood around the cuts and the incidents usually happen a few weeks after Halloween.
On the same day Williams found a dead 400-pound Hereford steer, his neighbor Rex Daniels lost a 1,200-pound registered Hereford cow that would have calved in the spring.
In the morning, Williams went to feed his calves as he always does and spotted a dead one lying on the ground about 200 yards from his mother-in-law's house.
At first, he thought it might have bloated but when he saw the precise incisions and missing genitals, he knew the cattle mutilators had struck again.
He then contacted law enforcement officials. They took samples of meat and hide, and after lab testing, he expects to know in a few months what killed the animals.
Both mutilations must have been done quickly by experts, he speculated. "Someone understands what they're doing. They've done it before."
The mutilations don't make Williams extremely angry or intimidated. Considering all the problems he faces in ranching, "any more, that seems mild," he said.