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The Nation

Colorado Cat Deaths Blamed on Wildlife

Suspicion that humans had killed 45 pets is ruled out by police and animal experts.

August 02, 2003|From Associated Press

AURORA, Colo. — Colorado authorities Friday blamed 45 Denver-area cat slayings in the last year on wildlife attacks, ending weeks of suspicion that budding psychopaths and devil worshippers were killing the pets.

"All of the deaths were caused by predators," Police Chief Ricky Bennett said in suburban Aurora, where 29 cases were reported.

Animal control officers had said some of the cats were sliced with surgical precision, but that was before police took over the investigation and consulted wildlife experts.

The killings and similar attacks on cats in Salt Lake City attracted widespread attention and led to speculation that people were to blame.

Urban Wildlife Rescue director Jack Murphy, who helped in the case, said 45 was not an unusual number of cat deaths in a year.

Bennett said reports that 11 cats had been mutilated in Salt Lake City probably fueled fears of human culprits in Denver. Officials said that foxes were behind the Utah deaths.

Pet owners' reactions were mixed.

"I would be thrilled to know it was something natural, but I would like it explained to me," said Christy Hughes, who assumed a fox killed her cat in June until animal control officers persuaded her humans were to blame.

"They went through the whole reason why," Hughes said. "I wanted it to be a fox or a coyote or a dog."

Cameron Lewis of the state Division of Wildlife said examinations on some of the cats showed that what appeared to be clean cuts by a scalpel were actually rips in the skin.

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