The Dugway sheep incident happened in March 1968. Many have linked the event to the US Army’s chemical and biological warfare program. This program was underway at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. Six thousand sheep passed to ranches near the base. The owners blamed the army’s testing of toxic chemicals for the situation. (The source)
The morning of March 14, 1968 began like any other day in the snow-covered rural hills of Skull Valley, Utah. But Tooele County Sheriff Fay Gillette will forever forget the carnage that followed. And the event sparked national debates on the use of chemical weapons. (The source)
Sheriff Fay Gillette described to reporters thousands of cattle strewn across the landscape. “I have never seen such a sight in my life.” It was like a movie version of “destruction” – you know, like after the bomb went off. Sheep are laying everywhere. All down – white spots as far as the eye can see. (The source)
What was most alarming was the distance between the base and the sheep. The Dugway Proving Ground was the Army’s largest base for testing chemical and biological weapons. It was 80 miles from Salt Lake City and 27 miles from the stricken animals. More sheep fell ill in the following days. Spokespersons for the Dugway facility have denied any involvement. (The source)
But on March 21, US Senator Frank Moss, a Democrat representing Utah, released a Pentagon document proving otherwise. On March 13, a high-velocity jet sprayed 320 gallons of VX nerve gas on Dugway grounds during a weapons test. The odorless and tasteless chemical was super toxic. Less than 10 milligrams is enough to injure a human by paralysis of the respiratory muscles. (The source)
Local vets and health officials investigated the matter. Their findings? The jet that was spraying VX gas had experienced a malfunction in its delivery tanks. He had accidentally released the gas at a much higher altitude than expected, allowing him to blow away from the testing grounds. The unfortunate sheep had grazed on the chemical-covered grass. Some died within 24 hours while others remained ill for weeks before succumbing, “generally act[ing] dizzy, [with] their heads bowed down and to the side, walk[ing] in a stilted and uncoordinated way”. (The source)
Although the Army did not admit guilt at the time, it paid $376,685 to rancher Alvin Hatch, whose sheep made up 90% of those affected. The army also lent bulldozers for the mass burial of sheep and launched a safety protocol review at Dugway. (The source)
Years later, people learned the cause of the event from an officially verified source. Air Force press officer Jesse Stay commissioned the report. This “first documented admission” from the military was made public in 1998. The newspaper revealed that a nerve agent shot the sheep in Skull Valley. (The source)
Tap here to leave a tip.
What do you think?
Share your thoughts in the comments and feel free to share this article on social media and with your friends and family.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. *This article was written using accredited media reports, including the Smithsonian Magazine, JSTOR, The Salt Lake Grandstandand Wikipedia. *Disclaimer: The article and the information it contains are not intended to be a source of advice. This article should not be construed as behavioral, business or other advice. Ideas, figures and strategies should never be used.