Muddy footprint adds to mystery in cow death on South Whidbey

The mystery of the dead cow with the skin removed from half its face deepened this week with the discovery of a strange looking footprint.

This fuzzy photo of a mysterious footprint was taken near the body of a cow that died in the Maxwelton area Feb. 22. The skin from half its face was removed in what looked like a surgical manner.

The mystery of the dead cow with the skin removed from half its face deepened this week with the discovery of a strange looking footprint.

The cow’s owner, Diane Schneider, said farmhand Javier Meja came across the track and photographed it with his cell phone.

“I didn’t see it myself,” Schneider said Tuesday. “It’s about as big as a man’s hand, it’s awfully large and was found about six feet from the cow’s body.”

The body was buried Saturday.

Island County Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes was intrigued by the footprint photo and forwarded it to sources in the U.S. Department of Wildlife and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. She hadn’t heard back as of Tuesday. She did show the picture to Dr. Robert Bishop, Island County coroner, but he wouldn’t hazard a guess, she said.

Since the story of the six-year-old Black Angus cow’s death appeared on Saturday’s South Whidbey Record, both Schneider and Barnes have heard of other recent cow deaths. Poisonous weeds, such as hemlock or tansy ragwort, were considered possibilities, assuming they’re in bloom. But none of the other cows had skin removed from half its face.

Barnes is hoping pictures of the dead cow and footprint will get around the Internet and some solid information might turn up.

“As of now, we just don’t know,” she said.

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