So-called "cattle mutilations" -- those mysterious instances in which animals are found with parts of their bodies missing, or even devoid of all blood -- have occurred precisely in the parts of Canada now considered to be the epicenter of both wildlife brain-wasting disease and the first publicly-declared cases of mad-cow disease in North America.
Researchers point out that since 1994, there have been at least 18 cases of unexplained animal mutilations in the remote province of Saskatchewan -- which is also where forty cases of chronic-wasting syndrome, a disease that may be linked to "mad cow," have been documented.
Moreover, it is believed the infected Holstein that recently made headlines in the state of Washington came from a dairy farm in the Canadian province of Alberta. That was also where Canada witnessed its own first case of mad cow last year. The diseased cow originated on a farm in Baldwinton, Saskatchewan -- the province that forms Alberta's eastern border and also has been the epicenter of Canadian cattle mutilations (at left the circles indicate mutilations and the stars outbreaks of chronic wasting in wildlife such as deer and elk). The wasting syndrome has hit west and north of Saskatoon, focusing on a town called North Battleford.
Since the 1970s -- when such brain-wasting diseases were first reported among wildlife in places like Colorado -- there have been parallel reports of cattle found dead in the strange, gruesome, and yet surgical manner near those very same vicinities. Often the tongues, eyes, reproductive organs, or other tissues have been cleanly taken -- indicating to some that it may be the result of a clandestine monitoring operation. It is believed that the infectious agent -- perhaps nucleic acids attached to "prions" -- may accumulate in certain mammalian issues. Spreading in wildlife and cattle, such an agent would pose a plague threat.
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