Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

WHEN THE GOING GETS WEIRD: The Devil Went Down to Woolsery

Now, I would like to say, here and now, that if I was standing on the outside looking in, I wouldn't believe this story at all, and I would be convinced that those naughty rapscallions at the CFZ had got a little tipsy in The Farmers Arms last night, and were playing a joke upon the rest of the fortean omniverse.
But, speaking as one of the aforementioned rapscallions, I can assure you that I am not!
Just before ten this morning, when Graham was toddling about the place all on his lonesome (because Graham is the first of the CFZ posse to rise in the morning) the telephone rang, and - being a dutiful fellow - he answered it.
It was a local lady who wondered if we would like to go and have a look at some peculiar footprints in the snow in her garden. Graham finished his coffee, grabbed the cameras and set off.

Despite the slidy nature of the roads (the snow having taken everyone by surprise) it only took him a few minutes to get to his destination, a private house next to a small close called `East Park`. (Yes there is a `South Park in the village, much to the amusement of all and sundry especially Oll and Richard)

In the garden he found a long line of footprints leading across the snowy lawn. As you can see, the only human footprints next to them are Graham's.

I am sure that you are all aware of the legend of the Devil's hoofprints - an occasion in February 1855 when a series of prints of what appeared to be cloven hooves were found in the snow all across South Devon. The superstitious locals believed that they were the work of the Devil and that the hornèd one had paid a personal visit to the county.

Well I don't believe that happened then, and I don't believe that is what happened last night either. There is certainly a perfectly rational zoological explanation for both events but our investigations are at a very early stage. In must be stressed however, that there are no scuff marks in the snow as would happen if a person had walked, and although the marks could have been made by someone on stilts that is highly unlikely.

Our investigations are continuing, and we will bring you more news as we get it...


Neil A said...

Looks alot like a rabbit to me!

Jon Downes said...

I think it probably is a rabbit, but what I want to know is why, when we have had snow quite a lot this winter, and there are millions if rabbits around Woolsery, did their tracks only look like this the once.

Is this a rabbit running? Rather than a rabbit peacefully minding its oiwn business? Whatever it ism, it ain't The Devil, or anythink like him, and I sincerely doubvt whether it was back in 1855 either..

Syd said...

If I was a betting man, having quite often seen similar prints in my garden following overnight snow falls, I would be inclined to say the Mr. FOX did it.

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

Personally I'd reckon that this was left by a mink. The characteristics are all correct for mink; the area is near to a smallish river, it isn't in an especially keepered area and the animal is keeping near to cover all the time it is moving about. Note how the animal came up the garden, checked out the dustbins area then went back down the garden again; typical behaviour for a small predator being led by the nose.

If you want to confirm the matter, set a Fenn MK 4 trap in a tunnel in the garden, baited with meat or cat food; the tunnel needs to be about three feet long to prevent cats and dogs getting to the bait. However, do this soon, before the spring increase in rodent and small bird populations makes the prospect of scavenging unattractive to mink.

Finally, before you complain of my heartlessness in this matter, consider that mink are introduced predators and by removing some from the country, you're doing the indigenous and now endangered water voles a very big favour.

TechNeilogy said...

I'd say rabbit, at least they look similar to those of the cottontail rabbits we have in North America.

We have a rabbit that frequents the backyard. When there is snow on the ground, the rabbit leaves tracks very similar to these.