Wanton mutilation of animals
Maiming of farm animals
Malicious mutilation of cattle
Execution of horses
Livestock are found abandoned on the range suffering from mutilations, often of an especially inhumane nature, unlikely to have been caused by any known predators. People have clearly been responsible for some, though few are identified. No conclusive explanations have as yet been found for others. The apparent randomness, lack of pattern, failure of guard dogs to bark, and other inexplicable features of such incidents, add to the uncertainty over cause or motive. There is very little evidence for "serial maiming", and when rewards have be issued for information on clustered attacks, none have been claimed. Sexual motives, person revenge and right-wing terrorism have all been mooted, though the practice remains as puzzling today as in past centuries.
In 1545, the "devilish act" of cutting out the tongues of horses and cattle in the UK brought forth a statute that was strengthened as the 1723 Waltham Black Act (designed to stamp out poachers and rural rebels), which hung anyone caught maiming farm animals. As a crime, maiming appears to have peaked in the first half of the 19th Century. In East Anglia it became rife. Methods employed included poisoning, hamstringing, shooting, strangulation, ear-cutting, stabbing, throat-slitting, and stick-thrusting or ripping. While horses were by far the most common target, cattle, sheep, asses and pigs all suffered various excruciating forms of torture and execution. Recent cases which have involved particularly savage and perverted attacks centred on the genital area have their echo in a number of cases between 1830 and 1850. The most likely criminal profile of an animal maimer is a a male between 18 and 25 years, probably experienced with horses and other farm animals. A number of case were associated with rural protest, with the animals representing the symbolic execution of the rural elite.
Over 20,000 incidents of unexplained mutilation of livestock have been reported worldwide during the period 1960-1986.