Texas Rancher's kill rouses regional legend


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Feb 21, 2003
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Rancher's kill rouses regional legend

By Bud Kennedy

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

As part of the ongoing effort to cover all roaming panther sightings, lost snake reports and other wild animal news, I'm here to report that the Texas Devil Dog will be dug up today.

The Devil Dog began haunting Texas TV newscasts last week. A San Antonio TV station showed photos of a small, fanged, hairless, blue creature shot and killed in rural Bexar County.

She might be some weird little dog, wildlife experts said. Or a mangy coyote. Or an exotic deer.

Or -- as the TV report headlined -- "Chupacabra?"

That one word has brought crowds mobbing the tiny town of Elmendorf. Behind the counter in DeLeon's Grocery & Market, alongside the Advil and NoDoz, hang four photos of whatever it was that rancher Devin Macanally killed two months ago.

Macanally told the TV reporter, jokingly, "Everybody's gonna think this is a Chupacabra," the mysterious goat-killing beast of lore.

Some folks didn't take it as a joke.

"More people have come to Elmendorf the last few days than we've ever had in history," said a tired Nancy DeLeon, answering the phone Monday after keeping the grocery store open late all weekend for crowds numbering in the hundreds.

The curiosity-seekers argue whether the blue beast in the photos is a dead dog, deer or Chupacabra, she said. They're leaning toward the Chupacabra.

"The Chupacabra is something everybody has heard about from their family and elders forever," DeLeon said, laughing. "Everybody is anxious to see if it looks like one.

"It's just been one big party."

The party turns serious today, when researchers from the University of Iowa are expected to dig up the animal's remains. Macanally had lost 40 chickens to predators when he heard his terrier barking one day in May. Near some mulberry bushes, he saw a small, bluish-gray animal, about 20 pounds, with big fangs and no hair except along the ridge of its back.

After he shot the Devil Dog-Deer-Whatever, a neighbor suggested keeping photos. When a different mystery creature in Maryland turned up on one of San Antonio's eternally oddball TV newscasts -- that one turned out to be a mangy fox -- Macanally phoned local stations about his Devil Dog.

"Now, I'm interested in knowing whether it was a new species or some animal that was thought to be extinct," he said Monday in a busy day of phone calls. "I've gotten curious."

A retired English teacher and the son of a Methodist circuit pastor in the Panhandle, he had been asking friends at church, "So -- did you see my Chupacabra?"

Advice: Don't ever kid anyone and tell them that you saw the Chupacabra. Particularly not anywhere near a TV news camera in summer.

"The Chupacabra is our geographical version of Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman or the Missing Link," said Dan Lee Vogler, an Austin wireless network technician and screenwriter/editor of www.Chupacabra.net, a Web site devoted to tracking the legend.

Chupacabra witnesses usually describe big red eyes and a long snout for sucking the blood from goats, he said. The Devil Dog has big eyes and a long nose.

The Chupacabra is also sort of a winged Bogeyman. Children who don't fear their parents are threatened with the Chupacabra.

DeLeon said: "A lot of parents will tell their kids, 'You better come inside right now because it's dark and the Chupacabra is coming!'

"Hey -- anything to get the kids inside."

The crowds coming to Elmendorf include a lot of families with children, she said.

"The parents point and say, 'See? It's dead! It's not going to hurt you!"

Her mother, Bonnie, said the more common reaction has been, "Look! It really could be the Chupacabra!"

At the San Antonio Zoo, collections manager Terry DeRosa said he believes the creature is a wild dog from a species known mostly in Mexico. He disagreed with a hunting guide from nearby Floresville who identified the animal as a muntjac, a species of miniature deer often kept as an exotic pet.

"That's a very small, timid antelope," he said. The zoo has one in its Gibbon Forest exhibit. "It wouldn't bother anyone's chickens."

I asked the Fort Worth Zoo's curator of mammals, Ron Surratt.

"To be honest with you, it doesn't look like a dog to me," he said. Several other species of exotic deer have fangs, he said.

He could not discuss the likelihood of a Chupacabra.

Nancy DeLeon said anybody who knows the legend should know that this is no Chupacabra.

"No way!" she insisted. "This is a little dog with paws.

"Everybody knows the Chupacabra has hooves!"

Maybe the Devil Dog was shaved by the Chupacabra.


Rancho Loco

Jan 29, 2002
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Man, I miss the Chupacabras stories....

I used to work with a bunch of mexicans and central americanos when I lived in L.A., and we had a blast with it. One of them even got me a pretty cool t-shirt.
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