New clues in beached cows mystery

A ship carrying cows was seen passing the Kiel Canal into the Baltic Sea in the week before New Year

New clues have emerged about the origin of the 12 dead cows that have been found washed up on Danish and Swedish beaches.

Since December 29, three dead cows have been found beached in Denmark and nine in southern Sweden – the latest appeared on Thursday – all with their rear legs tied up and with their identifying earmarks removed.

Swedish autopsies have revealed that at least two were liquidated with bolt guns, one in the head and one in the neck.

READ MORE: Beached cows baffle authorities

Theory: Dumped from a ship
Police think that the cows were dumped overboard from a ship and are now directing their investigation on ships that passed through the Kiel Canal, a 98-kilometre canal spanning southern Jutland and connecting the North Sea with the Baltic.

Politiken newspaper reports that a ship spotter, who was on the canal between Christmas and New Year, saw a ship carrying a cargo of cows stacked on several floors heading toward the Baltic.

The cows that the observer saw were coloured black-and-white, the same pattern as the Holstein Friesian breed that have been washing ashore.

Tracking down the ship
The United Canal Agency responsible for regulating the canal’s traffic told Politiken that there is a good chance that they can identify the ship.

Around 100 ships use the canal every day, a fifth of which carry animals, but only a couple of ships were carrying animals during the period in question.

The Baltic Sea is a protected environmental zone were dumping is not permitted, making it an environmental crime.