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South Hall farmers lose cattle to mysterious mutilations
Kathy Cooper bottlefeeds Brownie on Friday while talking to husband John Cooper on their farm in Flowery Branch. The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is investigating two cases of cattle mutilation on the Coopers’ farm. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Someone or something is mutilating cattle on the Cooper farm.

Twice since late September, cattle have turned up dead, with parts of their bodies removed with seemingly surgical precision, said Kathy Cooper, who with her husband, John, operates a 250-acre beef cattle farm in South Hall off Union Church Road. Now they want to know who’s doing it and why.

"We really don’t know," Kathy Cooper said. "It’s scary, because I know they’ve got to be getting down there on foot. It’s a huge pasture."

In a cattle operation the size of theirs — they have more than 200 head — it’s not unusual for a cow or two to die in the field every so often, Cooper said.

But when her husband found a dead cow with its milk sack cut out in a circle, it was no ordinary case of animal decay. Two weeks later, he found a 7-month-old bull calf dead, with part of its genitalia missing.

This week Hall County Sheriff’s investigators visited the farm.

"I was hoping I might get a little insight as to whether it had to do with devil worship or Voodoo," Cooper said.

No such luck.

Sheriff’s officials are still investigating the mutilations, but have no suspects, Col. Jeff Strickland said.

Cattle mutilation is a phenomenon that has been reported across the country at least since the 1960s. It even has its own name: "bovine excision." And despite in-depth government investigations worthy of the 1990s TV show "X Files," there has never been a clear explanation. While theories have ranged from bizarre blood-drinking cults to extraterrestrials, some believe the mutilations are actually done by small animals or insects who eat away parts of the body but leave most intact.

Cooper is convinced the most recent death was not the work of an animal, though.

"I’m 100 percent on the last one," she said.

The Coopers have been victims of vandals before, too. Last year someone shot dead four of their cows and was never caught.

Cooper said she would like to know if other farmers in the area have had similar problems.

If not, "it will just be up to us finding another one, and trying to get more clues," she said. "We know somebody’s up to no good, but we just don’t know why they’re doing it."