NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There has been a new twist in the investigation of an alleged killing and disfiguring of a rare white buffalo in Hunt County. Contrary to previous reports, authorities now say the animal was not mutilated.
The report concerning the death of the rare white buffalo and its mother is now raising questions about the alleged crime that led to an outpouring of grief, sympathy and reward money.
When the year old white buffalo calf named Lightning Medicine Cloud was found dead in May, owners of the Lakota Ranch told authorities the animal had been butchered and skinned. Officials were also told that the calf’s mother, Buffalo Woman, had also been found dead.
On Tuesday the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department released a press released saying their investigation has determined the buffaloes died of natural causes and that Lightning Medicine Cloud was not skinned.
During an afternoon press conference Hunt County officials said Lightning Medicine Cloud and Buffalo Woman both died from a common bacterial infection among the breed called ‘backleg.’
The new information conflicts with original allegations of slaughter and torture. Those reports outraged animal protection groups and the Sioux Nation. The white buffalo calf is revered by Lakota Sioux; whose tribal lore said the Goddess of Peace once appeared in the form of a white buffalo calf.
Authorities also revealed that both animals had been dead six days, and buried three, before ranch owners reported the deaths.
“We have photographs indicating that Lightning Medicine Cloud was not skinned,” Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks explained. “The photographs depict skin and hair on the remains and the veterinarian advised there was a lot of skin that was still left on the remains.”
Sheriff’s officials did not take questions during the press conference and ended saying, “We are closing this case. Should further evidence surface in the future that would indicate the deaths were not natural, we would gladly reopen the case.”
In the days following the reports of animal mutilation reward money of some $50,000 was raised and an Oregon woman even donated a 7-year-old white buffalo to the ranch.
The owners of Lakota Ranch, Arby and Pat Little Soldier, were unavailable for comment.
The closing of the animal investigation still a lot of unanswered questions about why the owners would report that the animals were mutilated if indeed they were not.