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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Sunday, August 01, 2010

ANDREW GABLE: Blue Dog Thoughts (1)

I’ve been attempting to contribute somewhat to the Blue Dog research going on in Texas, or at least as much as I can contribute being in the eastern US and unable to offer any real assistance beyond trying to keep up on reports of similar animals, sometimes from other states as well. Which is why I was intrigued when a hairless coyote was reported from Steelton, PA (a suburb of Harrisburg) just this week, on July 20 (it’s bizarrely coincidental that this happens to come only a week or so after several of the hairless canines were shot in Hood County, Texas). Although “mangy coyote” is a common explanation for the Blue Dogs, an examination of the photo of the animal (http://www.wgal.com/news/24323601/detail.html) reveals a few differences. There is a good deal of facial resemblance, implying that indeed the Texas dogs may be at least part coyote, but the Steelton animal lacks the rougher hide of the Texas animals. Also the hind legs appear to be shorter than on the Texas animals, and the ears (although difficult to see clearly) appear to be pointed rather than the more rounded ears on many of the Texas ones.

This isn’t the first hairless animal in the Pennsylvania/Maryland area, however. A family living in a rural area near Joppa (Harford County), Maryland reported a bald canine beastie roaming their property in the summer of 2003. Apparently amateur cryptozoologists, they set up game cameras and captured several photos of the animal, including one of it drinking from a horse trough. In the summer of 2004, a similar animal was seen near Glyndon (Baltimore County), same state. Photographs were also taken of the Glyndon animal, and soon the two Maryland animals were given the name Hyote (hyena/coyote), although the two may not have even been the same individual. At least it wasn’t called Chupacabra, though… in the Glyndon case, though, an animal was captured on the property soon afterwards. The captured beast turned out to be a young red fox with a severe case of sarcoptic mange (some veterinarians felt it may have been afflicted with some sort of endocrine disorder, and not mange).

Autumn, 2005 saw the first reports of the rather endearingly, but unfortunately, named creature called the Yardley Yeti (admittedly, it was also called Lower Makefield Lurker, Bucks County Boggart, or New Hope Hyena, but none of those have the ring of the first name). The animal was sighted in the area surrounding New Hope (Bucks County), Pennsylvania. Chief Ken Coluzzi of the Lower Makefield police received several reports of the “mutant” animal. Eerily, just before Halloween that year, author Jonathan Maberry, who lives in the area, and his wife photographed the “Yeti” in a New Hope parking lot. A local newscaster, Don Polec, also saw the animal, which he said was nearly the size of a German Shepherd dog and grayish in color. Polec wrote an article on the beast in the aftermath of his sighting. The beast as photographed by Maberry seems to be a mangy something or other, but whether it’s a fox, a coyote, or even a domestic dog can’t be said for sure.

One of the things I had mentioned to Naomi was that a perusal of Chad Arment’s Varmints (an invaluable resource on reports of strange carnivores) turned up no older reports of animals resembling the Blue Dogs. In fact, in general the Elmendorf carcass from 2004 is the first mention of them I could track down. There are older reports of canine animals from the same general area as the Blue Dog sightings, but they seem to be of hyena-like animals with hair. There are a few reports of black, canine “vampire” animals from other locales in the southern United States (similar to the sightings of bizarre animals sometimes reported in conjunction with animal mutilations in Britain), but none from Texas proper; this possibly implies that the Blue Dogs are a fairly new phenomenon, whether they are an outside species that for whatever reason migrated to Texas only a few years ago or whether they’re an indigenous one of fairly recent vintage.

Back in the East, an article appeared in the Baltimore Sun a few years ago stating that game wardens were concerned with a recent upswing in reported cases of mange. It is tempting to wonder whether the Texas dogs are merely one facet of a larger phenomenon.

Samson foxes, mentioned by others, are another possibility for the appearances. These are gray foxes which lose much of their hair during the summer months. It is notable that many of these reports of hairless canines take place in the summer and early autumn. Many also seem to be considerably larger than foxes, and it’s interesting to consider whether a similar phenomenon can take place in coyotes.


Anonymous said...

"4.30 - 5.15 LECTURE RONAN COGHLAN: The Holy Grail"

OMG!! They've found an original Doctor Who Script from the "Golden Years"

(Hi, Jon and Richard!

Wish I could be there but since I am disabled and on a VERY fixed income Minneapolis, Minnesota is the only place I am likely to be found these days).

Anonymous said...

Maberry's animal certainly has the head of a coyote but the hair loss due to mange changes the look of the animal rather drastically so that it could be almost anything BUT a chupacabra (they have wings).

Imagine if Nick Redfern stopped shaving his head and just turned up one day with shoulder-length hair---you wouldn't know the man.
"Aroint thee, thou changeling!" we would cry. "We abjure thee! Come NOT in that form!"

Anyway, I'm reasonably certain Maberry's beastie is a coyote---the stance, as well as the head, is typical of such.