Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Alleged Chupacabra Caught on Video by Texas Police

A video originally posted on a San Antonio news station's website(KEN 5) has made it all the way to the CNN Video News site. The video of the alleged chupacabra was captured in the small town of Cuero, Texas, just southwest of San Antonio, by DeWitt County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Riedel.

On August 8, Riedel and his partner were checking fence lines on a dirt road near Cuero when they saw a strange, coyote-sized creature running alongside the road. Riedel, who has been on the job for eight years, had the presence of mind to turn on his patrol car's dashboard camera, in order to capture video of the creature. From the approximately minute-long glimpse of the animal, Riedel said he noticed several unusual features, such as its short front legs and long back legs, hairless skin and long snout. A snout, the San Antonio reporter claims, is the, "type of feature that legends are made of." Riedel said he has never seen anything like this in his many years of patrolling Cuero's dusty back roads.

Here's a still I made from one of the videos, where the snout in question is clearly visible:

Dewitt Count Sheriff Joe (or Jode, the two videos use different first names) Zavesky said the animal is most likely some sort of coyote hybrid, but expects many "experts" to be asking for the video. Despite his explanation, he also claimed, "We still don't what it is." It appears Zavesky might be more interested in the media attention sightings of similar creatures have recently brought to Cuero than finding out what the animal truly is. Quoted from both videos:

"I love this for DeWitt county." Zavesky said, "It has brought alot of attention to us,and I believe there's something to it."

Stories of the chupacabra first caused a stir in the small Texas town when a rancher named Phylis Canion found the carcass of a coyote-like animal on her property in July 2007. Canion's neighbors claimed the deceased creature was responsible for their missing cats and chickens in recent years. Some livestock carcasses were allegedly found with their blood drained. Riedel claims the animal in the video is identical to the creature found on Canion's ranch, or at least identical to the animal about which he has read in the newspapers.

In November of 2007, a story posted on KEN 5's website reported that a DNA test performed by biologists at Texas State University had revealed the true identity of the carcass: a coyote. From the article:

"'The DNA sequence is a virtually identical match to DNA from the coyote,' Mike Forstner, a Texas State University biologist, said in a news release Thursday night. 'This is probably the answer a lot of folks thought might be the outcome. I, myself, really thought it was a domestic dog, but the Cuero chupacabra is a Texas coyote.'"

Only the video on CNN's site mentions this information, while both reports refer to the creature as anything but what it really is. "Goatsucker" and "creature of the night" were terms used by the CNN reporter, with the San Antonio reporter calling it a "legend" more than once. Why did neither of these reports call it a coyote? It's also interesting to note that the San Antonio report misspells Riedel's name. The dashboard camera's time clock in the upper right hand corner spells it "Riedel," which would presumably be the correct spelling since it is Riedel's patrol car. However, the San Antonio report attributes the officer onscreen as "Corp. Brandon Reidel." Is this how journalism is done in Texas?

Forstner admitted the DNA test on the carcass found one year ago did not explain the coyote's hairless skin or other unusual features, but sees those unexplained traits as just more questions to be answered:

"'That is the best part about science. The first answers often lead to more questions and then better explanations of the world in which we live,' Forstner said. 'We've taken additional skin samples and we will try to determine the cause of the hair loss. Folks fear what they don't understand, and a big part of the goal in science is to explain the natural world,'"

I like the way this Forstner guy thinks. Science can still be filled with mystery without propagating tales of a hairless, bloodsucking beast. There are so many more interesting, if less sensational, stories here. Is this a new species of coyote? Has a particularly virile male coyote been knocking up family dogs over the last few years? Is there some unknown mutation making its way through the local coyote gene pool? Is it some combination of all three? All these would have made great news stories, and could prove to be legitimate scientific questions. But of course the local news team chose to go for the "chupacabra" angle. When did science become less interesting than mythology?

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Julie said...

Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for a thoughtful and well-written blog entry. It frustrates the heck outta me that with so many wonders in the natural world, people still want to reach for the supernatural.

SUMIT said...

Yes,this is real video t'day INDIA TV telecast ths video on tv,but they allegledly corelate chupacabra with indian mytho'lgy,but 2 yr ago i saw mystery huntr on discovry/history both telecast this prog'm abt chupacabra in peurto rico ,they attack on animals in mysterious condtns but one thing clear footage animal is much resemblance!
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coffee said...

out of all the mythical, blood sucking creatures out there, the Chupacabra is almost certainly the sneakiest

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