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Mutilations by Mice?

The cattle mutilations in Argentina that have been describedon Dreamland by Linda Howe have been explained as beingcaused by a species of mouse that exists only in parts ofSouth America.

In April, Argentinian veterinarian Daniel Belot wascontacted by a rancher who found a 1,000-pound AberdeenAngus steer lying on its belly with the left side of itsface around the jaw gone and its hide cut away in twostraight lines meeting at a 90-degree angle. Its tongue,pharynx and larynx were missing and muscles and ligamentshad been cleanly removed from the jawbones. There was noblood on the animal or nearby, and there were no signs ofscavengers or predators.

"I had never seen anything like it before," says Belot, whoworks for Argentina's animal health agency, Senasa. "Howwere those cuts made? When? Why?" And this steer wasn?t theonly one. Hundreds of cattle in Argentina are turning updead and mutilated in ways that baffle ranchers.

Since Belot saw that first mutilation in April, nearly 200more have been reported in the same area, as well asmutilations from as far away as Patagonia and Uruguay. Allof them are the same in one way: the organs, flesh and skinhave been removed in angular or neatly curved cuts thatleave no blood and clean, dry bones.

"The type of incisions do not coincide with any infectiousor contagious disease that we know," says Alberto Pariani, aveterinarian at the University of La Pampa who has examined40 mutilated cows. "When animals eat, they rip, they tear.They don't cut. Everyone who has experience working on the ranch says thesame thing: No animal can do this."

The mutilations have been accompanied by UFO sightings,making people wonder if the culprits come from anotherworld. But that still doesn?t answer the question of whythis is being done.

Since the 1960s, hundreds of mutilated animals have beenfound in the United States as well, with identicalcharacteristics - removal of organs in what appear to besurgically precise cuts, no trace of blood, no tracks ofhumans or animals, often along with UFO sightings.

Now a team of Argentinian university veterinarians saythey?ve come up with the answer: Oxymycterus, also known as the long-nosed mouse. Theirtheory is that the cows die from disease or other naturalcauses, and are then eaten by scavengers, including foxesand birds. But the long-nosed mouse finishes off the carcasswith its large, pointed incisors. The mouse can supposedlynibble off flesh and hide in precise circular and linearpatterns.

To prove this, veterinarians placed dead cows in areas wheresome of the mutilations had occurred. Four or five dayslater, the cows were left with "lesions exactly the same" asthose discovered in the earlier mutilated cows.

But many experts and local veterinarians remain unconvinced.One question the university team has not answered is why themice, or any other scavenger, would consume the parts of thecattle that have been found missing, while leaving most ofthe body, which would be far easier for them to eat. Also,some cows have been found mutilated only hours after beingseen alive, meaning there wasn?t enough time for the mice todevour the organs.

Another problem is that nobody, from ranchers to biologistsspecializing in rodents, has ever seen mice feed on a cowcarcass. Veterinarians suggest that a population explosioncombined with an unusually cold winter have driven the miceto change their diet from worms and slugs to cow flesh. Butin most cases, witnesses have seen no signs of the mice nearthe carcasses.

Also, the long-nosed mouse does not live in La Pampa, wheredozens of mutilations have been found. More important, itdoesn?t live in the United States, so what?s causing thecattle mutilations here? Some investigators think it?scoyotes, but ranchers are familiar with coyote kills and saythe cattle mutilations look completely different.

It couldn?t be humans, since the none of the police inArgentina or the U.S. have found no footprints or tiretracks near the animals. Also, there are no signs ofstruggle, and when cows are killed, they leave kick marks asthey take their final breaths. Mutilated cows have evendiscovered behind fences and locked gates or miles from thenearest road.

One thing is true no matter where the mutilations takeplace: There are sightings of strange lights in the sky atthe times of the mutilations. "We are totally disoriented,"says Oscar Raul Arce, the chief of police in northern LaPampa. "What's going on here is perhaps beyond our abilityto understand."

Most ranchers in Argentina don?t buy the long-nosed mousetheory. "I'd always heard stories of people who had seenlights and strange things," says Raul Vargas, who has foundmutilated calves on his ranch. "But if I hadn't seen thiswith my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it."

No one has investigated cattle mutilations more than ourscience reporter Linda Moulton Howe. Read all about it in?Glimpses of Other Realities, Vol. II,http://www.unknowncountry.com/store/?fid=13,click here andscroll down.

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