06/15/2012 03:17 EDT | Updated 08/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Maple Ridge Mutilated Cats: Coyotes, Not Humans, Did It, Says SPCA

Two dozen mutilated cats found in Maple Ridge and Langley were likely killed by animal predators — not humans as previously suspected — a forensic investigation has concluded.

The B.C. SPCA had been warning the public for months that that somebody was chopping up the cats and deliberately placing them on the doorsteps of neighbourhood homes.

But on Friday the animal welfare agency said after working with a forensic veterinarian, they concluded the cats likely fell victim to coyotes or other animal predators.

Dr. Melinda Merck evaluated 30 animals in total, including 20 cats, eight birds, one rabbit and one dog.

Merck said the difference between knife cuts and coyote bites is very subtle and it is not unusual for predators to leave "very disturbing parts behind."

"It's not unusual for people to think humans are involved," she said.

Five of the cases are still under review, but B.C. SPCA spokeswoman Eileen Drever said she was happy to learn the mutilations weren't human-caused.

"In my 32 years, we've never had a cluster of cases like this," said Drever. "I was so relieved. I was scared really. But it's not over, because we need to find out what animal it was."

When asked if the SPCA had acted properly by issuing repeated warnings that they suspected a human was responsible for the mutilations, Drever said the agency had a responsiblity to investigate and report the information they had at the time.