British Columbia

Coyotes likely responsible for farm animals with missing genitals, livestock experts say

Fort St. John RCMP warned livestock owners to keep tabs on their animals after a horse and bull were found dead with their genitals missing, just nine days apart.

'You've got to rule out natural things before you start worrying about the bizarre': veterinary pathologist

Coyotes often scavenge soft tissue from dead livestock, wildlife experts say. (Getty Images)

A pair of livestock experts say coyotes are likely to blame for two cases of animal disfigurement in northeastern B.C., though they aren't ruling out other possibilities.

This week, Fort St. John RCMP warned livestock owners to keep tabs on their animals after a horse and bull were found dead with their genitals missing, just nine days apart.

It's not known when the bull died, but police say significant time had passed before it was reported.

A necropsy of the horse indicated the cause of death was a perforated bowel.

Veterinarian Nick Nation said the most likely explanation is coyotes came across animals that died of other causes and started eating the softest parts of their body.

"That's a very common situation, especially at this time of year," Nation said. "You've got to rule out natural things before you start worrying about the bizarre."

That sentiment was echoed by Dave Heaslip, a retired investigator with the RCMP's livestock division.

"We get lots of people saying 'oh, space aliens have come down,'" he said. "But if I was a betting man, I would bet that predators went ahead and came in there and scavenged the body."

Heaslip said that while it was normal for him to encounter instances of dead livestock with missing genitals, for the average rancher it would be a rare sight.

"This only happens once or twice in a lifetime for them."

Nation said that while there are occasional cases of people being responsible for animal mutilation, it is rare.

"It's almost always, in my experience, post-mortem scavenging of some type."

Questions remain

RCMP did not provide an update on the investigation Friday, but on Thursday, Const. Chad Neustaeter of Fort St. John said police are taking the cases "very seriously."

The horse's owner, Amanda Babcock, also said she still had questions that were unanswered by the necropsy.

She said the fence that had been containing the horse was cut and that another horse was uncharacteristically upset.

"Everybody's trying to keep an eye out. Everybody is very concerned for their own livestock, for their own animals," she said.

The B.C. RCMP Livestock Section is assisting in the investigation.


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