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Posted on Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 6:03 a.m.

Was that a chupacabra crossing the road in Ann Arbor?

By Juliana Keeping

At least one reporter a year asks the Michigan Department of Natural Resources if Bigfoot exists.

But I call to ask about any sightings of another monster - the stuff of hellish nightmares called El Chupacabra.

The dog-beast hybrid is rumored to suck the blood and life from goats and other unfortunate farm animals and pets. And an Ann Arbor resident claims to have possibly seen one around town.

"...I need to ask this question. Have you had anyone report the witnessing of a...and I know this sounds this area?"

I decide to investigate.

"Chupacabra? I haven't heard of it," DNR spokeswoman Mary Dettloff tells me. "Was the sighting around Hash Bash?"


"We get more calls with people telling me they have a cougar in their backyard, but we don't keep track of those."

"Oh, so we have cougars in Michigan?"

"One verified sighting up in the UP last year, the only one we've had recently."


Back to El Chupacabra:

Our reader says he and his wife saw the otherworldly animal stalk across East Huron River Drive under US-23 the afternoon of March 29. Then it slipped off into the wetlands - causing nary a ripple.

Our reader reports:

"The thing we saw looked like a hairless pit bull, only longer and taller. The only other way to describe it is that someone took a Mexican hairless pup, fed it nothing but steroids, decapitated it and grafted a horse's head on."

Quite the description.

He goes on to say it had the gait of a large, prowling cat. The mere sight of the thing was enough to keep him - a hunter for 45 years - out of the woods for a while.

"I hit the brakes, not to avoid hitting it, but to have more time to observe it before it got to the wetland side. Had I been there a little sooner and expecting it...I would have been happy to hit and hopefully kill it. This thing...this whatever it was...was like watching something in a horror/scifi movie cross in front of you."

And the reader pleads:

"Can you possibly assure us that what we saw was either a figment of our imagination or...?"

Yes, figment of imagination or "...?". I wrack my brain.

I decide to call the keeper of a gazillion animal species preserved in glass jars, some of them extinct. That's William Fink, the curator of the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

Maybe one of his jars holds a big Mexican hairless dog that died recently following a steroid overdose and a horse-head transplant. That would explain things. You just never know with zoologists. I call him.

"I have a strange question for you," I say to Fink.

"I've called to ask about El Chupacabra."

"That's not for me," Fink says.

Strike two. And what kind of reporter am I to ask these questions - Chupacabra, pshht - of a scientist! Making a mockery of his field!

"That's for our mammal division guy. Phil Myers would be the guy you want to talk to."

I'm back on track.

El Chupacabra: figment of imagination or "...?".

The answer is so close I can feel it. The story's heating up. It's deep - deeper than the time I investigated a haunted windbreaker being sold on eBay.

Myers holds the key. I call him.

He vows to get back at Fink. We laugh.

Then I get serious:

"And what about El Chupacabra?"

He tells me that over at the American Society of Mammologists, the professional society zoologists belong to, people e-mail pictures to each other of weird animals. Zoologist humor.

About two or three times a year - including just this morning - those pictures depict Chupcabras.

"But what are they?"

"They are always well-known, fairly common things with mange, so that they've lost all their hair, and their skin is kind of scabby."


"Parasitic mites that get into your skin and destroy the hair follicles."

Sounds itchy. And not as exciting as I'd hoped.

He continues:

"And the pictures I’ve really looked at have been a dog or a coyote. And in a few instances, that’s actually been confirmed by folks doing DNA analysis on tissue from the animal."

In this country, most of these "Chupacabra" are spotted in Texas, he says.

"So what about this Mexican hairless dog with a horse head on steroids our reader saw in Ann Arbor?"

At first, Myers hesitates. I push him.

He bends. Coughs up a few guesses. Maybe a feral, mangy dog, or a mangy deer, coyote or fox. Anything with fur can get mange. Menacing squirrels that infiltrate his bird feeder have mange.

"The mystery is solved," I say to him. The Chupacabra may not be a figment of our reader's imagination - it could just be a feral dog with a gigantic head and a bad case of mange.

Then out of nowhere, Myers gets mysterious. Without prompting, he says:

"You never know around here."

If you answered yes, continue to the next poll:

Juliana Keeping covers higher education - and occasionally mythical beasts - for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Fri, Apr 9, 2010 : 8:31 a.m.

el chupa-blah-blah


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9:05 a.m.

Does no one understand the ENGLISH language. URBAN!! since almost all chupacabra are sighted in RURAL areas, the use of word URBAN, shows the overall ignorance in regard to our language. IF a reporter is this unaware of word meanings, what else if anything they report is reliable. The correct term would have been folklore(duh)or myth or legend.


Thu, Apr 8, 2010 : 9:03 a.m.

I believe the El Chupacabra is related do the Dogman that has been spotted in Northern Michigan:


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:45 p.m.

I am not one to just say that this is Urban legend or that what these people saw was not true. We do have coyotes in Washtenaw County and in Ypisantli Township and most of our Townships. If this happens again, why do they not take samples from the dead animals. I am sure they can get something from that. There is not one person who can say this is true or not as we were not there. We have to rely on the eveidence I hope they have the good sense to collect, then make a judgement from there. There is plenty of different species of animals and fish that are now coming to light. I do not judge or laugh at a person for something they reported, what if it is true. What are the jokesters on here going to do then?? I think they will find out that it was something that we all know about. What that conclusion is, I am not sure. I believe a person until they have been proven to be right or wrong. I think it would be cool to have a Chupacabra in our area. To bad they did not have a camera at the time to prove what they are saying. Maybe this thing would suck the blood out of the people who are turning Scio Township upside down with the many larcencies in this area. We got robbed 2 mornings in a row this week and they have broken into many businesses as well. Why is this not put in the paper to warn the residents of Scio Township?? So, I will take the Chupacabra over the humans turning my Township upside down. Will be waiting to see if this story about this creature pans out or not. It is interesting though. But, not one to make fun of unless the eveidence has been collected.

David Keren

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:41 p.m.

I think this story should have been filed on April 1.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:32 p.m.

I too have seen an unusual animal that I thought was a large cat...too large. It was in the Waldenwood area and it scampered into the underbrush. I didn't think too much about it, but now after reading this story...I'm having second thoughts. I just sent my wife out looking for it. With the dog - perhaps as bait.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

Guess I just don't see what the big deal is. It's certainly not some paranormal thing. The two most likely scenarios are that it's a known animal with a condition or genetic defect, or that it's a previously unrecorded species, which would be very cool - but certainly not "creepy".


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:51 a.m.

I've read that comment above mine like five times and I still can't figure out, FIGURE OUT, what you are trying to say. Your post is a mystery like the chupacabra


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:47 a.m.

another 'chubacabra' video depicted what was clearly a coyote with mange near rosenberg texas ( where i also spend time). 2 weeks ago a fox, grossly disfigured with mange appeared on our patio in east ann arbor township, nearly identical to the "chupa' in some videos such as that cited..since it was clearly starving its behavior was untypically devoid of caution ( "agressive") and it came right up to a picture window and was oblivious to my attempts to scare it away by banging on the glass.....attempts to nab it in a have- a-heart trap failed for several days and it must have wandered off ( or died) and may have been the thingy sighted.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 11:10 a.m.

Hash Bash? What is that? With regard to the vidio (no audio) at this end I have several thoughts: Subject is a collection of gens Breeding for a hybrid Evolution present Last Wolverine sited in thumb area (04-06-2010) IN THE THUMB AREA IN THE THUMB AREA "Vetrenarian study" medicine vital to man Study of Medicine at U of M VITAL The best to all of you! Your friend, Dawn


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

what is scary are the opossum that live downtown, talk about ROUS's...sickly mangy things that are bigger than cats! I did see a dead coyote by the side of M14 near domino's farms a couple days ago


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 10:03 a.m.

I believe that they are best prepared as a roast however a mesquite smoke on the outdoor grill is just fine for the tenderloins.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:51 a.m.

Not to change the topic, but wasn't the Hash Bash just last weekend? I wonder if there's a connection?

Jamie Weeder

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:48 a.m.

Oh course they exist- there is an estimated millions of species of animals and insects that we haven't yet discovered- and by the looks for it we've already discovered this one.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:21 a.m.

Could it be...


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

I so hope that chupacabra and bigfoot are kicking it here in Ann Arbor. But what the dude on Huron River Drive described pretty much sounds like what we here in Ann Arbor Township like to call A DEER. Like a chupacabra, but with less goat sucking, and flatter teeth. And big doe-y eyes.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 9:08 a.m.

There was a Scooby Doo movie on the Chupacabra. Long story short? This would not surprise me in the least if this was true. There is so many unexplained phenomena in the world, even with computers and scientific proof? There is still no proof on big foot, yeti and the Chupacabra. Who knows, I do believe in the unexplainable.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:59 a.m.

google bigfoot in michigan there have been sightings and footprints near geddes and prospect.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

bah not making a joke of it. just pointing out most of the people making these assumptions just are not that very good at picking out distinguishing characteristics of animals. I promise you hunters and ranchers don't really pay that much attention. also, if you watch the video, the only real 'evidence' they show are those features that are still canine features, and like the zoologists in the article discuss, there are insects that make animals lose their hair and it IS a very common thing. people need to do more research before they jump on these urban legend band wagon. BESIDES even if this said Chupacabra exists, why do people think it's this evil beast that is going to kill us all???? don't you want to understand nature before you're so quick to destroy it? sucking goat blood what a load of hogwash!! :P

Top Cat

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:50 a.m.

I would not treat this as a joke. This is not the Lock Ness Monster or Bigfoot. The number of sitings and evidence are not definitive but are certainly compelling. Whatever these animals are, they are vicious.


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

How many bras could a chupacabra pac, if a chupacabra could pac bras? There's probably YouTube links to that as well...


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:10 a.m.

I haven't seen a Chupacabra! But there are plenty of blood sucking animals in Washington!


Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 8:05 a.m.

They like to suck the blood from sheep. Seems to me there was a recent story about a sheep running loose--maybe running for its life--in Ann Arbor. Coincidence? I think not.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Apr 7, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

To answer the rhetorical headline question.....No