A coyote?

Sonny Long

Oct. 31, 2008 at 5:31 a.m.

CUERO - The case isn't closed on the chupacabra yet. Despite DNA results revealing that the mystery animal found in DeWitt County in July is an "old coyote," Phylis Canion isn't through seeking answers.

In fact, she peppered Michael Forstner, Texas State University biologist, with questions at the end of Thursday's newscast on San Antonio's KENS 5 News, but other than saying the animal had an "unfortunate" skin disease of some kind, nothing else was answered on air.

In a buildup reminiscent of Geraldo Rivera's opening of Al Capone's vault, Canion joined Forstner and reporter Joe Conger on live television from Texas State University in San Marcos for the dramatic opening of the envelope containing the DNA results.

"What you didn't hear is that he said it could be a new family within the coyote species," said Canion, showing a chart illustrating exactly where the animal falls among the DNA makeup of similar animals. "He said it was most similar to this coyote, which is the key. Similar. But this is still not the same line. It did not exactly match any of them.

"Within this family, there could be a new group that takes on a different behavior. They could suck blood out of a chicken. So what is it? It's similar to a coyote, and perhaps it's a different family of coyote," said Canion. "We're not saying this is some new species, just a new family."

Canion said she would consult with Victoria veterinarian Travis Schaar on the skin disease that may have stricken the animal. She added that the animal didn't have mites, which could rule out mange.

She will also be sending a back molar and a skin sample to the University of California at Davis, and she will pay for the testing herself this time. Texas State compared the DNA to a computer database, but UC-Davis has actual coyote DNA to compare it to, she said.

"This was not as specific as I wanted," she said.

KENS paid for the DNA testing at Texas State.

And has the furor over the chupacabra died down? Hardly. Tagging along with Canion to San Marcos and continuing to film at her ranch on Friday was a television crew from Italy.

She has also spotted another one of the animals on her property and has set a trap to attempt to capture it live. 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.

ONLINE: Phylis Canion, who thought she had found a chupacabra on her property, now believes she has found a new type of coyote. To hear her theory, go to www.VictoriaAdvocate.com, click on the story headline, then click on the multimedia icon.



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