Thirty-two chickens were found dead and 46 reported missing in a “highly unusual” overnight or early morning attack on a chicken coop in the Fair Oaks area, authorities said Thursday.

Police said they think the most likely culprit was an animal.     

Officers were called to the coop around 8 a.m. after a neighbor reported seeing dozens of lifeless chickens in the pasture of a farm in the 5200 block of Winfield Road, Caldwell said.

A portion of the electric fence surrounding the chicken coop had been trampled, Caldwell said.

"It was a vicious attack, savage," Caldwell said. "The chickens were found in varying states, with a number of injuries, some of them serious."

Police did not know who or what was responsible for the attack. No footprints or animal paw prints were found on the scene of the attack, according to Caldwell.

Police are searching for the 46 missing chickens, she said. It is unclear if they are wandering Fairfax County or have fallen victim to predatory animals. 

Fairfax County is home to black bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, and opossums among other wildlife, according to a county government website.  

Animal control experts are examining the chicken carcasses to determine what type of animal was responsible for the attack, Caldwell said. 

"This is highly unusual and concerning," Caldwell said. "Maybe whatever it was just left and wandered away."

Anyone who sees the chickens is asked to call animal control at 703-691-2131