A bizarre-looking animal, believed by some to be the blood-sucking "chupacabra," is lurking around the home of a family in the town's Southport neighborhood and ate the heart out of a goose it killed but left the rest of the body intact.
"He killed a goose and bit the heart out of it, but, other than that, he didn't do anything with it, which was weird," said Shaun Andree, of lower Bronson Road, who snapped photos of the animal on Saturday after it killed the goose and while it was in his yard. "The one where he's by the goose, he was biting at the goose, and he stopped and turned to me when he saw me."
Andree said the animal killed the goose by his daughters' swing and that he went out to get rid of the goose's body after the animal left so his young daughters wouldn't be traumatized by seeing it. "He just went after the chest, and I could see a hole in the chest cavity...just a hole right in the chest," Andree said, adding that he saw the animal kill the goose by clamping down on its neck.
Andree said from 10 to 15 geese usually walk across his yard every day and that deer walk through as well, but he hasn't seen a goose or deer walk in his yard since the bizarre-looking animal showed up.
Andree said he first saw the animal on Saturday, and then again on Sunday. He said he talked with people who live nearby who hadn't seen it but who said they would keep an eye out for it.
Andree said he grew up in the Midwest and had seen a lot of coyotes and foxes, but hadn't seen anything like the animal in his yard. "I just know I've never seen anything like it - big ears and a really long tail like a monkey's tail," he said.
Andree said he posted photos of the animal on Facebook, and 25 of 35 people who commented on the photos said it was a chupacabra, a blood-sucking animal believed by some to be a mythical creature, but believed by others to be real. The name "chupacabra" comes from the animal's reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock.
Paul Miller, the town's Animal Control Officer, said the animal in the photos looks to him like a coyote with mange. Mange will cause a coyote to lose its hair, Miller said.
Miller said the Animal Control Department has fielded four to five calls about a bizarre-looking animal in Southport in the past week and that a coyote with mange has been mistaken in the past for a chupacabra. "They've been called many things - a chupacabra, reptilian-type animals with scaly skin," he said.
Miller said a coyote with mange might go for food sources a healthy coyote wouldn't and that he thinks more than one coyote with mange is in the neighborhood. Coyotes can spread mange through contact with other coyotes, Miller said. "Sometimes, an animal gets so sick from mange it has to be destroyed by the Police Department or it dies on its own," he said.
Andree said his wife, Kristin, is more frightened of the animal than he is and asks him to walk her to her car. He said she doesn't want their daughters going outside.
Andree said the closest the animal has come to the house is about 50 feet, and it seems to be hanging around because his 3-acre property, 2 acres of which is wooded, is difficult to leave because the Mill River runs by it and Interstate 95 is on one side and train tracks are on the other.
"He would have to come real close to the house to get away," Andree said. "There's no way he can really go to get away unless he swam in the Mill River to get across it."
Andree said his wife likely would ask police to destroy the animal. "I think my wife is going to try to get a hold of him because she's more worried about it than I am," Andree said.