Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mythical Creature Or Sick Animal?

When Jim Jackson, who lives off PR 37 across from Dancing Bear on the Bandera-Medina county line, shot a strange creature on May 26 at the water trough he keeps for the deer, Jim and wife Sandra were convinced that they had confirmed the existence of the ever-elusive chupacabra. “Jim feeds the deer,” she explained, “and when he saw this ugly-looking creature drinking from the water trough he said it looked like something that needed to be shot. He shot it and a baby ran away.” Convinced that they had killed a legendary chupacabra, the couple took pictures of the animal from all sides and sent them to the Medina County game warden and to a veterinarian. Geographical locations have penned divergent descriptions of Chupacabras – “goat suckers” of contemporary lore – along two main delineations. Texas sitings have resulted in descriptions of animals that resemble hairless dogs, coyotes or wolves that have longer hind than front legs and oversized fangs. The South American chupacabra is the size of a small bear. It stands and hops like a kangaroo on two legs, has red glowing eyes and a row of spines down its backbone from the neck to the end of the tail. Sightings of both much-described and sought chupacabras have usually followed incidents of livestock killings involving an unusually large number of slaughtered animals.The veterinarian said the animal Jim shot was not a chupacabra, but rather, a coyote with severe mange. "First of all,” the veterinarian wrote, “no, this isn't a chupacabra. But I am concerned about sarcpoptic mange – scabies – a contagious mite that causes hair loss and severe itching.” The veterinarian said the dead animal could also have rabies, but that rabies typically does not cause hair loss. Other causes of concern included intestinal parasites, roundworms and hookworms. “Without seeing it,” she wrote, “I can only speculate that it had a severe mange, flea, and or tick infestation. There is what looks like hyperkeratosis (thickening of the skin) on the tail and perianal area. This is usually from chronic disease. The abscesses (or again what appear to be abscesses) around the perianal area are probably from chronic disease (itching, fleas, mange causing abscesses)." The also cautioned against handling the carcass. For tunately, for the Jacksons, they wisely had not handled the carcass. So while Bandera and Medina counties will not claim the fame that Cuero did with their cupacabra sitings, the discovery of the mangy cupacabra-like coyote is a good reminder to pet owners to vaccinate their pets, put them on flea treatment and make sure they receive the veterinary care they need. That way if they get out of the yard and show up at a neighbor’s deer-watering trough, they won’t look like something that “needs to be shot.”