Saturday, September 23, 2023

Covelo Native Son Recounts His Encounter with a Mutilated Cow in the 1970s

One of the mutilated cattle found in Wheeler County, Oregon in April 2021. We have included four images from the Wheeler County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, all have been edited from color to black and white to temper the gore for our readers. For those interested, all of these pictures can be accessed on the WCSO Facebook page.

Sometimes an experience is so strange, so out-of-the-normal, that it is hard to shake.

Covelo native son Jerry Hill visited his childhood home one Thanksgiving break in the late 1970s. He decided to go quail hunting on his family’s one-hundred-acre parcel and stumbled on one of those peculiar experiences that he remembers vividly to this day. In the middle of a field, Hill found a cow, mutilated in a way he had never seen before nor has ever seen since. He told his father, his father told law enforcement, and university researchers would take the dead creature away never to be heard of again. 

Now 84-years-old, Hill told us his family has deep roots in Round Valley. In 1929 his parents built the Covelo Hotel, and before that, his family ran a stable and guide service that catered towards Bay Area Hunters that would take a train to Dos Rios and ride into the Yolla Bolly Wilderness for wild game.

As a young man, Hill ventured south to go to college, eventually becoming a teacher and then a school principal in Sonoma County. Now, he lives the retired life with his wife in Lincoln, California. 

During one of his years in college, Hill ventured back to Round Valley during the Thanksgiving holiday to enjoy his family and food. At that time, the Hill family lived on a one-hundred-acre parcel located on the northeast side of the intersection of Covelo Road and East Lane.

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The approximate location of the Hill Family’s 100-acre parcel

One day during his vacation, Hill got a hankering for a hike and a hunt. He left home taking along a shotgun for his adventures. As he walked along, a shape caught Hill’s eye in the middle of a field sparking his interest enough to approach.

There, in the middle of the field, Hill saw a sight still burned deeply in his memory. 

There, lying on the ground, was a dead cow, with what he described as “a perfect circle of hide cut out of the side.” There were no other visible injuries and the wound looked as if “there were no knife marks or blood, just a perfect 10”-12” circle of hide.” The cow had not been dead long, Hill thought because it was not showing any signs of rigor mortis. 

That evening, Hill told his father about his discovery. This led Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office deputies to respond and investigate. From Hill’s understanding, University of California, Davis researchers would ultimately come to Covelo and pick up the cow for research purposes.

After that weekend, Hill said his family never spoke of the discovery again. He never heard of investigatory conclusions on the part of law enforcement, nor the research findings from UC Davis.

We do know that in the early months of 1976 Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office livestock investigator Deputy Barron L. Hankes told multiple media outlets about a rash of cattle mutilations in Round Valley. In all, seven cattle died with wounds of unknown origins. The injuries found on the animals included having their “anus, genitalia, and tongues cut out, and…the teats of the utters cut off.” One of the animals had reportedly been “drained of blood.”

Deputy Hankes said investigations determined that “three of them were definitely mutilated by humans.” The location of all seven, mutilated in the Covelo Valley itself versus the hills or other parts of the county, indicated to Hankes that “it was like someone wanted us to find them.”

We have reached out to UC Davis’s Animal Science department in hopes to get ahold of an archival material they might have regarding the Covelo cattle mutilation research and will provide an update if it is made available. 

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Looking back, Hill remembers his quaint childhood home of Covelo calling it a “nice, productive farm community.” He said a lot has changed, but despite a half-century gone by, he sharply remembered that day, that field, and that strange sight of a cow who had been the victim of an unknown predator. 

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  1. Good morning and God bless all those joining our “fast&pray” today for our county from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M.! This is a beginner fast so that everyone can join in! Feel free to tailor this fast and make it very personal! Let’s come together and pull down these strongholds!

    Ephesians 6:12
    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
    King James Version (KJV)

    Let’s fast and pray for our leaders and those in a position of influence in our community. I would like to put emphasis on Covelo, Ca. The tribal leaders have publicly stated their need for prayer. Church, let’s come together and bring their community before the throne of God for the pulling down of spiritual strongholds in the Covelo area.

    Let’s unite as the body of Jesus Christ monthly on behalf of our community. You could be the one to organize a monthly fast at your church or in your connect groups. Is my prayer that God will inspire you!

    2Chronicles 7:14 KJV. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
    ( Holy Bible)

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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