Mysterious Attacks Leave Livestock Earless in Kentucky

A baby goat nuzzles his mom.
A baby goat nuzzles its mama. (Image credit: © Brian Squibb)

An unknown animal is attacking, but not eating, livestock in Kentucky, leaving many of the victims with gnawed or detached ears.

According to WAVE News, the attacks have been ongoing for several weeks in Shelby County, Ky. At least five goats have had to be put to sleep due to their injuries, and a goat named Polka-dot has been left with just one ear.

Kevin Cox, the local farmer who owns Polka-dot, has also had several of his bulls attacked, he told the news organization.

Kentucky officials are investigating, but there's no word yet on the culprit in the attacks. Odd livestock attacks often get blamed on supernatural creatures, especially the mythical beast el chupacabra, which means "goat sucker" in Spanish.

El chupacabra is said to suck the blood of livestock and has been blamed for attacks in Mexico and elsewhere. Supposed chupacabra sightings have always panned out to be dogs, coyotes, raccoons and other mammals.

Likewise, there is probably nothing bizarre about the mysterious Kentucky attacks.

While many predators from coyotes to bobcats have been known to attack farm animals, domestic dogs in particular are known to attack but not eat livestock. In many cases, animal dog attack victims are left with torn and mangled ears, according to the nonprofit Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management. It's not yet known whether local dogs will turn out to be responsible for the Kentucky attacks, but dogs are certainly more likely than a mythical creature.

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.