Chupacabra, coyote or … ?

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CUERO - Phylis Canion is mystified, baffled and, at one point, she was a little bit frightened. What exactly is the mysterious animal that she has seen on her property: the storied Chupacabra, a coyote with mange, or some breeding experiment gone horribly wrong?

The story begins two Saturdays ago when Canion got a call. She was told one of the animals she had first seen on her property about two years ago had been hit by a car and killed. Canion's property is on Buenger Road off U.S. Highway 183 south of Cuero.

"I had seen one three or four times on our place, but it's very elusive. So, when I got the call that one had been killed, I got it and took it back to the house," Canion said. "It's a strange-looking animal. It has short front legs and longer back legs. The paws on the front are different than the ones on the back, and it has no hair. The nose is very long. The tip of the nose is longer than the lower jaw, and the front teeth stick out, almost like fangs. They are the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life."

Canion said that after she first saw the animal on her property, she began losing kittens during the night. "I don't know if it was related or not, so I began to set a chicken out at night," she said. "I would find the chicken the next day with all the blood drained out. The carcass was left behind. The scariest thing that happened was the day I found the chicken on my back porch. All the blood was sucked out, and there was not one drop of blood on my porch."

Canion said a neighboring property owner has reported a sheep found devoid of blood. "Others I have talked to have seen it, too," Canion said. "But they didn't tell anyone because they were afraid people would think they are crazy."

DeWitt County Extension Agent Anthony Netardus looked at the photographs of the carcass of the mysterious animal. "I'd rather defer to the experts, but it looks to me like it might be a coyote with a severe case of mange," he said.

Canion called in a local game warden who admitted he didn't know what the animal was and took her photographs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, Canion said. "They said it's not a mangy coyote," she said.

Local veterinarian Robert Beer also examined the photographs. "I can't say for sure without actually examining the animal, especially the head. But it looks like a coyote with mange. I have seen this in coyotes and foxes. It could even be a domestic dog," he said.

Canion said she will soon be sending a "sample" to Texas A&M for DNA testing. "I have also sent the pictures to National Geographic, and they wrote back and said they would be in touch soon," Canion said.

She has her own theory about why at least three of these animals have been seen in recent days. Another was killed near her property, and one was killed near the Guadalupe River bridge, both hit by cars. "We don't see ever see three coyotes dead on the road," Canion said. "Why all of a sudden? I think they must live in a hole, in a den. We've had more than 20 inches of rain at our house recently, and I think it forces them out of their holes."

"I have also heard a rumor, but haven't been able to substantiate it, that some years ago some experiments were done breeding different species. So who knows what this might be?" Canion said. She thinks the mystery will soon be solved.

"Between Texas A&M and National Geographic, I bet we can come up with some answers," she said.

Sonny Long is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-275-6319 or cueroadv@vicad.com, or comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.


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