“Is it saucers, satanists or CIA?” wrote Tom Adams in Stigmata, the only zine dedicated to the cattle mutilation phenomenon of the 1970s and 80s, and by the end of the decade, researchers and investigators were no closer to finding the culprit.

The road to the greatest UFO conspiracy of all time is a windy one, laced with paranoia, shady figures, and a carcass count in the tens of thousands. The mute phenomenon was a slow moving one that gradually gained momentum until it led to ranchers arming themselves against mystery helicopters and out-of-town strangers.

Still, there were a number of oddities during this time period. In Montana, Cascade County accounted for nearly every type of phenomenon associated with their mute cases, including the discovery of a “cult” site and the appearance of that big hairy guy that likes to hang out in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot. In Colorado, cases reached an epidemic proportion, and the culprits were brave enough to leave one carcass at NORAD’s front gate. And on Manuel Gomez’s ranch in Dulce, New Mexico, the perpetrators planted evidence to make it seem like the government was definitely involved.

Regardless, the mute phenomenon reached epidemic proportions, leading one U.S. Senator to convene the first conference on the topic. A conference that would lead to the greatest UFO conspiracy of all time.

Special thanks to Brennan Storr (The Ghost Story Guys), Philip Keating (Botched Podcast, Imaginary Nomad on Twitch), Emily Louise (Weird Reads with Emily Louise), Ash, Ryan Sprague (Somewhere in the Skies) and David Riedel.


“The Enduring Panic About Cow Mutilations” by Rachel Monroe, The New Yorker, May 8, 2023

Stalking the Herd: Unraveling the Cattle Mutilation Mystery by Christopher O’Brien

“Mind Blowing Soul-Suckers??” by Staff Writer, Stigmata, No 5

“Ordeal in Arkansas” by Staff Writer, Stigmata, No 4

The Night Mutilators by Gene Duplantier

Dulce Base The Truth and Evidence From the Case Files of Gabe Valdez by Greg Valdez

“Wave of Mutilation: The Cattle Mutilation Phenomenon of the 1970s” by Michael J. Goleman, The Agricultural History Society, 2011

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Rob Kristoffersen is an amateur UFO researcher from the Adirondacks of Northern New York. He is the host of the podcast, Our Strange Skies: UFOs Throughout History.