Three dairy cows have died after being splashed on the back with a reddish-black liquid that now appears to be toxic.

Washington dairy producer John Koopman called the King County sheriff’s office on June 6 after he found several of his cows had been splashed with an unidentified reddish-black substance that had caused blisters on their backs. About 20 cows were exposed, 10 became gravely ill, and so far three animals have died. Several of the exposed cows have not shown any sign of illness. No milk from the affected animals has entered the food chain.

Investigators from USDA, FDA, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the state Department of Agriculture and Public Health are now working with local law enforcement to determine who is responsible, and to identify the toxic substance. Tissue samples have been sent to the FDA’s Forensic Chemical Center in Cincinnati.

Post-mortem exams on two of the deceased cows revealed the substance, after blistering the skin, penetrated the hide and damaged some internal orgrans.

At this point, investigators say it could have been a prank, a criminal act, or someone trying to contaminate the food chain. More evidence is needed to ascertain the intent of the act.

The 330-cow dairy is located near Enumclaw, a small town due east of Tacoma.

For more details from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, go to:,, Washington Post, Seattle Post-Intelligncer