Mystery in Sweden: Why are dead cows washing up on the beach? (UPDATE)

It is unknown where they came from or why they were dumped in the sea.

Thanks to our commentators Carl and Niall, we can post the solution. See below. 

Mutilated cow carcasses litter Swedish coast – The Local.

On Tuesday, police launched an investigation into the origin and deaths of five dead cows that washed ashore during the past week.

“This is a highly unusual case,” Jimmy Modén, spokesman for the Skåne Police Department, told The Local. “The first report came on New Year’s Eve, and then another on January 4th, and then a third cow was reported on the 5th. Yesterday we received a call about yet another.”

The first cow was found in Gislöv harbour, and since then bodies have washed up in Smygehamn, Beddingestrand, and Falsterbo, stretching over 56 kilometres of the southern Swedish coast.

Some had bound feet and their ears were cut off, possibly to prevent identification from ear tattoos with which cows are regularly marked. But one may have enough remaining to be traced. The cows may have been dumped offshore (which is illegal). If they were diseased, the owner may have tried to avoid reporting it. Investigators may be able to determine if they were alive prior to dumping which would mean additional animal cruelty charges.

UPDATE: (12-Jan 2014)

Maritime Bulletin – Livestock carrier Abou Karim IV heading to justice after dumping dead cows in Baltic sea.

Lebanese livestock carrier Abou Karim IV is believed to be the vessel which threw overboard at least 14 dead cows in Baltic sea, soon after leaving Kiel on Dec 27 13.

The animals were ill and there may be no law against dumping them.

  18 comments for “Mystery in Sweden: Why are dead cows washing up on the beach? (UPDATE)

  1. January 9, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Latest from Swedish language newspaper “Sydsveskan” is that at least two of the cows had been shot with a bolt-gun. A total of eleven cadavers have been found now, 8 on the Swedish side and 3 in Denmark. Some of them had their back legs tied and Sydsvenskan suggests (no source named though) that one theory is that this indicates they were dumped from a boat using a crane. Several recent related articles (Swedish language only) can be seen on the newspapers website for free. Some information on English language “The Copenhagen Post” also.

  2. January 9, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more ‘ick’ in the world…

  3. John Nowak
    January 9, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Probably the cow Mafia.

  4. Dang
    January 9, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    Why are dead cows washing up on the beach?
    Because they can’t turn the faucets in the lavatory!

    Thank you very much! I’ll be here all week!

  5. January 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Why that’s “utterly” ridiculous!!

  6. Lagaya1
    January 9, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    Human beings can be so disappointing.

  7. January 9, 2014 at 6:44 PM

    I meant to say “udderly”.

  8. January 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM

    Oh, the moo-manity!

  9. Andrew W
    January 9, 2014 at 7:56 PM

    I thought the obvious answer would be that cows can’t swim in lakes.
    Everyone knows they are creatures of the sea….

  10. F-89
    January 9, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    I thought the French were launching them…

  11. January 9, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    It’s not too hard to understand if you are a farmer. If a cow gets some disease or some issue that makes it unsalable, it costs money to dispose of. You ever try burying a cow? Besides, burying it is illegal in some places too. So, you call a “knacker” which takes the body and makes it into soap or cat food, but even that option isn’t available if the cow is a “downer” and may have Mad Cow Disease, or anthrax.

    Soooo … you dump the bodies. Probably motivated more by fear than by cruelty. Dumping 1,000 lbs in the water is hard work in any case, and yes, you’d probably tie the legs together so a tractor could be used. I’d highly doubt they were still alive … try dumping a healthy cow into the water. I dare you!

    My own worries would more be health worries though. What happened that made the cows that ill? To a farmer, cows are money … you don’t just dump them unless something is VERY wrong. In which case they should NOT be in the water supply?

  12. Carl
    January 10, 2014 at 12:45 AM

    According to Swedish and Danish police, traces of tags that were recovered do not follow EU standards, and thus it is likely that Russia is involved as it is the only non-EU state around the Baltic. However, Russia does not export cattle to any significant degree, but they do import cattle en masse from the US and from South America. The Russian federal veterinary authorities have previously expressed concerns about cattle deaths onboard vessels transporting cattle from the US (such as the Pearl of Para debacle a few years ago). I personally find it very likely that the culprit is such a vessel, and that they decided to dump deceased cattle and mess with the waybills to make it look out like they messed up whilst loading in the port of departure rather than en route, as to not cause another similar situation where the recipient and various animal rights groups go bananas.

  13. cplamb
    January 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM

    Clearly someone has been splicing genes from lemmings into cows.

  14. Carl
    January 11, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Mystery has been solved. It was indeed a ship carrying cattle from the US to Russia (to a port in Latvia first, it seems like). The ship in question was Lebanese, possibly “Abou Karim II” and the cattle had been slaughtered onboard and dumped in the sea, due to disease.

  15. January 11, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Can you post a link?

  16. Carl
    January 11, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Here is a recent SVT (Swedish state television) article on the matter:

    There seems to be some confusion regarding the destination as the ship had been spotted approaching the Russian port in Baltiysk/Kaliningrad/Königsberg and then later the Latvian port of Klaipeda. What is certain is that the culprit is a Lebanese livestock carrier and that it was shipping cattle from the Americas to Eastern Europe. Also, Swedish forensic scientists inspected the remains washed up in Sweden and found that they had been slaughtered by a bolt gun while at sea.

    I did some research on my own looking at AIS data and found that the Lebanese livestock carrier “Abou Karim II” is the closest match. This entire situation is reminiscent of the aforementioned Pearl of Para incident a few years ago, where the the US veterinary service and another shipping company (I think they were based in Croatia, with the ship being registered on the Marshall Islands) were under fire by Russian authorities for a whole lot of cattle deaths en route. Russia imports heaps of US cattle right now as they’re trying to become less reliant on meat imports, they also “import” American ranchers for the know-how (in Bryansk there are many gargantuan ranches now, run by American cowboys, hehe).

  17. Carl
    January 11, 2014 at 10:43 PM

    Pardon me — Klaipeda is in Lithuania, not Latvia (I always tend to mix up those two Baltic states as I know them by their Swedish names).

  18. January 12, 2014 at 3:50 AM

    Sydsvenskan are reporting (my translation): “According to Danish police, it is very likely that the cows come from a Lebanese Ship. The ship, laden with breeding stock from U.S.A. had passed through the Kiel canal and stopped at a Russian port, where they were refused permission to offload eleven dead cattle. The Danish Police theory is that the ship then dumped the cows level with the island of Christiansø northeast of Bornholm.”

    Original Swedish text here:

    I also found the reference below in English from the “Maritime Bulletin”. They state

    “It’s allowed to dump dead animals in the ocean, but not in landlocked sea like Baltic sea. Apparently crew decided to deal with dead animals in a way they found most appropriate, instead of disposing of them in first port of call.” and “It is understood, that vessel is to be detained in Kiel or maybe in earlier for investigation.”

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