Coyote with mange mistaken for Chupacabra

Posted: February 21, 2013 in cryptids, media

This week has been awash with stupid headlines. First we had the silly spontaneous combustion story from News 9, and now KFOR is reporting that a Chupacabra is running wild in Deer Creek.

“Chupacabra? Yeah! There ya go,” one man said.

Others agree. “It does look like one to me. It does. It really does,” Carmen Himes said.

A chupacabra is a legendary animal rumored to feed on the blood of goats.

Believers said it’s making its way into Oklahoma from Mexico.

Chupacabra, coyote what ever you think this animal is, it’s in the Deer Creek area at Hwy. 74 and Waterloo Rd.

Craig Martin snapped pictures of the animal when he spotted it in the field.

The avid outdoorsman said it looks just like a chupacabra.

“That’s immediately what we thought and it looks exactly the same,” he said. “There’s not much difference at all.”

He said it looks much different than a coyote.

Sigh. No.

Later on in the piece, a biologist from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife says exactly what it is.

“What we’re dealing with here is just a coyote with a bad case of mange,” Department of Wildlife Spokesperson Michael Bergin said.

There is a lot wrong with this story.

First, the writing is terrible. I don’t usually critique people for their writing. It feels too pot kettle black, but in this case I’m going to make an exception. The way the story is written, it isn’t clear who is saying what. It sounds like a spokesman for the Wildlife Department is saying that it is not a regular coyote. I’m almost certain that the section claiming it might be a hybrid should be attributed to Craig Martin, the photographer.

Second, a little time looking into the background of the Chupacabra story would be helpful in explaining why this is almost certainly a coyote with mange, and not some mythical creature. One of the podcasts I listen to is Monster Talk, a show about legendary monsters and cryptids hosted by people who don’t actually believe those cryptids likely exist. One of the hosts, Ben Radford, wrote a book recently looking into the development of the myth called Tracking the Chupacabra.

One of the things Radford documents is how much the description of the creature has changed over the years from its origin in Puerto Rico in the 1990s. What is considered the standard description in the southern United States (namely a weird hairless canid) took years to become the common narrative. Every purported Chupacabra carcass that has been tested turned out to be a dog or coyote.

The Lost Ogle covered this story as well, and the picture they used actually fits the early Puerto Rico descriptions of the creature fairly well. It is alleged to have spines on its back and look vaguely kangarooish.

Via The Lost Ogle

Via The Lost Ogle

Here is what more recent descriptions of the look like.

Bad dog!

Bad dog!

As you can see, these are clearly not the same thing. Radford actually has an account of how the early Puerto Rico case got started, and I won’t ruin it for you. Go read the book.

  1. […] As is to be expected when bald creatures turn up, it was also called a Chupacabra. It is amazing how different a hairless creature can look from a normal specimen. […]

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