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1947 flying saucer

Times-News engraver Vic Goertzen drew this rendition of a flying saucer L.W. Hawkins and his sons said they saw flying in August 1947 in the Snake River Canyon near Auger Falls.

A series of cattle mutilations from Idaho and Oregon to Colorado and Texas kept some folks on edge for months in 1975.

Blaine County officials were stumped by dead cows found with their udders and sex organs removed “with surgical precision,” the Times-News reported on the front page of its Sept. 9, 1975, edition. The cuts were made in perfect circles and no other marks were found on the cows’ bodies. No blood, tire tracks or footprints were found near the animals.

“Blaine County officials cannot pinpoint the cause of death,” the article said.

Adams County Sheriff Jim Hileman said seven cows were mutilated in his neck of the woods between June and September that year; Sheriff Jim Johnson said the theory that a helicopter was used to access cattle in Washington County was ruled out because of the rough terrain.

Some 100 incidents were reported in Idaho by October 1975 — about half of which were considered suspicious by the Attorney General’s Office. Idaho Chief Investigator Dave Rowe said the mutilations were not the “work of an organized group or satanic cult.”

Rumors circulating in the Magic Valley portrayed an unearthly scene; some cattlemen found mutilated cows at one spot, then later found the same bodies moved yards away —with even more body parts missing — and still with no footprints or tire tracks at the site.

Folks began to connect the mutilations with numerous UFO sightings and abductions reported throughout the West.

On Nov. 5, 1975, a woodcutter disappeared into a beam of blue light coming from a craft hovering overhead, in clear view of numerous coworkers near Snowflake, Ariz., said a United Press International article the Times-News ran a week later. Travis Walton told Navajo County deputies he was beamed back to earth five days later after what seemed like only two hours. Walton told his brother Duane he was disgusted because the spacemen wouldn’t talk to him.

“They would just smile at him and lead him by the arm,” Duane Walton told the UPI.

Stories similar to Walton’s led many to theorize wildly about the cattle mutilations, while others tried to subdue the speculation. One theory, posed by a university laboratory in Colorado, said the cattle were mutilated after they died a natural death.

“If that’s the case, whoever is doing the cutting is not killing the animals,” then-Blaine County Sheriff Orville Drexler told the Times-News. “That would mean someone in the area was looking over the herds carefully to spot cattle that die naturally.”

Twin Falls County authorities chalked up the cattle mutilations to animal predation. But in Cameron County, Texas, Deputy Eddie Gonzalez dismissed the predator theory.

“There was no blood,” Gonzalez said. “Down here they believe in a lot of witchcraft. There are a lot of fanatics. This is not a coyote.”

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Mychel Matthews reports on agriculture and rural issues for the Times-News. The Hidden History feature runs every Thursday in the Times-News and on Magicvalley.com. If you have a question about something that may have historical significance, email Matthews at mmatthews@magicvalley.com.

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