Operation Mutilation: The Official Report by Jon Elliston, Dossier Editor pscpdocs@aol.com

government investigation into cattle mutilationsIn May 1979, one Kenneth Rommel stepped into the mutilations fray. For 28 years Rommel worked as an FBI agent, specializing in counter-intelligence and major crimes such as bank robbery. Upon leaving the bureau, he accepted an assignment befitting a real-life Fox Mulder or Dana Scully, the paranormal investigators on the TV show The X-Files.

Rommel became director of “Operational Animal Mutilation,” an investigation undertaken by the district attorney’s office of New Mexico’s First Judicial District and funded with a $44,170 grant from the U.S. Justice Department’s Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

Today Rommel is one of the towering figures of mute history, though his work has been denounced by a host of independent mutologists. By all accounts, Rommel is a fascinating player in the mute controversy. He was profiled by Jack Hitt in the February 1997 issue of GQ magazine. Hitt described his visit with the retired FBI man:

“I have interviewed many FBI agents before, and Rommel is the classic model. He talks in straight-shooting clips, few jokes. A sign on his wall reads, WHAT PART OF NO DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? He is very clean. He’s strong and big, a six-footer. He is wearing jogging shorts and tennis shoes. He plans to run his daily three-mile course after he gets rid of me. He is 72 years old, and I feel safe in saying that he could probably kick your ass. You might not want to party with Ken Rommel, but if terrorists were holed up in a house with your mother as hostage, you would want him in the front yard with the bullhorn.”

{loadposition content_adsensecontent}

Rommel launched his year-long investigation in May 1979. In his report, he states that Operation Animal Mutilation had five objectives:

(1) To determine the reliability of the information on which the grant was based. This entailed gathering as much information as possible about the cases reported in New Mexico prior to May 1979…

(2) To determine the cause of as many mutilations as possible, especially those reported in New Mexico…

(3) To determine if livestock mutilations as described constitute a major law enforcement problem…

(4) If these mutilations do constitute a major law enforcement problem, to determine the scope of the problem and to offer recommendations on how to deal with it…

(5) If it is shown that the mutilation phenomenon is not a law enforcement problem, to recommend that no further law enforcement investigations be funded. Rommel’s report is heavily documented, and draws on the expertise of dozens of specialists consulted during the investigation, including: reporters, veterinarians, livestock association officials, paranormal investigators, geologists, chemists, forensic pathologists, pharmacologists, and county, state and federal officials from agriculture, wildlife and law enforcement agencies.

From many of these individuals, he obtained reports of prior mute incidents and investigations. Despite all the scholarly assistance he received, Rommel’s research was often a gruesome affair. His report, which contains phrases such as “perfectly cored anus” and backs them up with photos, bears out the repulsive aspects of mutes that the former FBI agent was forced to delve into.

Rommel assembled the analysis of these authorities, along with his own on-sight observations and interviews, to make the case that the explanation for the mutilations is considerably more down to earth than most mute theorists would have it. At a press conference held shortly before the release of the report, Rommel announced that the mutes he inspected, “like all the rest, can be attributed to the greatest phenomenon of all, Mother Nature, acting in her role as the world’s greatest ecologist.”

He personally inspected the carcasses of 25 reported mutes. In each of these incidents, he reported, “the rough jagged nature of the incisions together with the evidence at the scene clearly indicates that the carcass was damaged by predators and/or scavengers. ” He goes on to say that “I have found no credible source who differs from this finding, nor has one piece of hard evidence been presented or uncovered that would cause me to alter this conclusion.”

Rommel states in his report that he was “well aware of the controversial nature of the subject” when he launched his mute investigation. “These mutilations have been variously linked with UFOs, environmental testing, biological experiments, and nuclear activities. A few individuals, however, including some very knowledgeable veterinarians, have continually maintained that the real mutilators are predators and scavengers. This theory, I soon learned, was one of the least popular.”

Though the theory was unpopular, Rommel was thoroughly persuaded that the answer to the mute mystery was far more mundane than most people thought. In his report, Rommel painstakingly debunks many of the notions about “classic mutilations. ” In almost all of the cases he examined, a completely natural cause of death was established.

The organs that disappear, he argues, are composed of just the sort of soft tissues that carnivorous scavengers are known to snack on. The “surgically precise” cuts that were so often reported were in fact quite jagged when viewed up close. As to the absence of blood, Rommel notes that “such a claim is rarely substantiated by a necropsy [animal autopsy] report. ” He discovered that it is common for the blood of deceased animals to settle into the lower parts of the corpse, and that “any blood on the carcass or on the ground is quickly consumed by scavengers.”

Rommel also took a stab at one of the major mute cases that allegedly involved extraterrestrials. As evidence that UFOs had been in the area, residents of Taos, New Mexico presented gray flakes of a paint-like substance found on one ranch. Rommel submitted the “UFO chips” to the FBI crime lab, which reported after chemical analysis that the material was in fact “a white enamel paint typical of an acrylic latex/emulsion-type exterior house paint.”

Rommel didn’t find evidence of a criminal conspiracy, but he did identify some culprits. His chief suspect was the mute rumor mill, aided and abetted by some news outlets and law officers who put unfounded conclusions on the record. Rommel said that he found “a great deal of very creative writing on the part of the media and some law enforcement personnel and I found many statements made by others that were completely unsupported by factual data. ” His research, he asserted, had “clearly shown that the media has played a very important role in promoting both the livestock phenomenon and the lore surrounding it. ” Rommel concluded that misleading reports had bred “a classic case of mild hysteria” around the mute issue.

He recently remarked: “The problem is, you’ve got ranchers who see something they’ve never seen before or just ignored, an
d then you have law-enforcement officials getting carried away. You’ve got Sheriff Num-nutz up in some place where he can’t even find his own police car, saying, ‘It looks like laser surgery,’ and the reporters love quotes like that, so they repeat it. Now, if I were a reporter, I would ask, ‘Sheriff, how much do you know about laser surgery?'”

Rommel’s report included recommendations for police officers confronted with mute cases: “Don’t use terms such as ‘surgical precision,’ which are conclusions. Stay with the facts, let the laboratory experts make conclusions. Also, don’t be misled by statements made by non-authoritative sources. ” He concluded his report by stating his wish that the mute hubbub now be laid to rest: “It is my sincere hope that the conclusions reached in this report will help those engaged in the cattle industry and others to put behind them the rumors, theories and fears that some highly organized criminal activity or extraterrestrial conspiracy is responsible for these mutilations.”

Not surprisingly, those who had advanced such theories denounced Rommel’s work. When asked about Rommel, Linda Howe said, “I ignore him — I believe he’s being paid to cover up the real cause of the mutilations. ” Others mutologists also charged that Rommel’s report was intended to hide the terrible truth about mutes. Senator Schmitt offered only qualified support for Rommel’s report, saying “I though it was fairly well written, but it certainly doesn’t answer all of the questions.”

Today Rommel is retired and living in New Mexico, and still fields queries about this most bizarre chapter of his government career. He readily provided a copy of his Operation Animal Mutilation report to ParaScope, and spoke at length for the recent GQ feature on mutes. Though over two and a half decades have passed since his investigation, he’s still engaged in the mute debate, which despite his best efforts shows no sign of dissipating. He prepared a definitive work of mute answers, but mute questions remain on the minds of many.

Sources: Hitt, Jack, “Operation Moo,” GQ, February, 1997, pp. 152-159, 195-196.

Kagan, Daniel and Ian Summers, Mute Evidence (Bantam Books, 1983).

Peebles, Curtis, Watch the Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994).

Previous: Cattle Mutilations

DOCUMENT: Read the Rommel Report

Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 1

Winter 1975 – Spring 1979

Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 2


Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 3


Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 4

Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 5

Operation Animal Mutilation: Chapter 6

IMAGES (Warning – Graphic)