If there's a fictional creature that can rival Bigfoot in terms of reported sightings in the Americas, it's the chupacabra. Known as killer of goats and other livestock (its name translates quite literally as "goat sucker"), the chupacabra has been "spotted" on a fairly regular basis in both North and Central America over the last two decades. In this latest reported incident, a Mississippi hunter has claimed to have killed one of the beasts.
According to the Clarion Ledger, Matt Hewharrell was hunting raccoons when he came across a lurking predator that he claimed had red eyes. He fired at the mystery animal before it could strike, and hauled its remains back to the owner of the property—who claimed to have seen such a beast hanging around his chicken houses before.
Locals allegedly told Hewharrell that they believed the corpse to be that of the legendary chupacabra, and eventually the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries stepped in. Their conclusion: In life, it had been a coyote with a severe case of mange—which is actually what a vast majority of "chupacabras" wind up being.
If you take a look at the image, which is available in the Clarion Ledger's report, it's hard to disagree. Though the animal was obviously quite sick, it doesn't look like anything otherworldly or new. If you're not sure, go ahead and Google "coyotes with mange." The alleged "chupacabra" we're dealing with would fit right in.
For what it's worth, Hewharrell remains convinced he's dealing with something previously unseen. He told reporters that no one he's found has ever seen anything like the animal he shot, and that his dog is afraid of the corpse.
I appreciate his enthusiasm, but it's not at all uncommon for mangy animals to be misidentified as something more. It happened early this summer in San Antonio, Texas. And then again just a few months ago in Kentucky. A second Texas case involving a chupacabra revealed the critter in question to be a coyote/wolf hybrid. Truth is, there's usually a far more pedestrian explanation for such findings.
So, for now, anyway, we still can't confirm the chupacabra's existence—there's no more evidence of it than there is proof that a plesiosaur is swimming around a relatively famous loch in the Scottish Highlands.