LAKE JACKSON — When Jack Crabtree walks out of his house in the morning, he expects to see grass, trees and neighboring homes, he does not expect to see a chupacabra.
Yet, when he walked outside July 4, he is sure that’s what he saw. What’s more, he took some pictures.
The gray, four-legged creature came through his back yard and walked through a neighboring field before disappearing into the brush.
“I’ve been around wildlife my entire life,” said Crabtree, a former Texas Parks and Wildlife employee. “I’ve just seen nothing like it.”
Crabtree has seen photos of chupacabra on television and says the creature looks like one.
Local wildlife experts, however, aren’t so sure.
WHAT IS A CHUPACABRA?
“It’s a demonic creature that is active at night,” Crabtree said.
“It sucks the blood out of goats and chickens.”
Stories of the creature have made their way from Mexico, Latin America and Puerto Rico to the southern United States.
More than a decade ago, farmers in Calama, a mining town in Chile, awoke to find their goats and sheep dead in their pens. An unidentified predator had mutilated their necks. And from there, the legend has only grown.
Descriptions of the chupacabra vary, according to animalplanet.com. Eyewitnesses have described the animal as having a reptilian body, oval head, bulging red eyes, fanged teeth and a long, darting tongue.
Other eyewitnesses claim to have seen an animal that can fly or leap with powerful, monkey-like hind legs, attacking animals and humans. Most eyewitnesses say they saw fangs.
“In every case, a predator appears to wantonly kill livestock (usually goats or chickens), then mysteriously disappeared,” the website states.
“No meat was taken, and only a small bite to the neck was apparent.”
A simple Internet search of the chupacabra reveals story after story of Texas sightings and YouTube videos to accompany them.
WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY?
Still, local wildlife officials aren’t convinced.
Not only is there a suspicious lack of animals with blood drained from their body in Lake Jackson, but to Lake Jackson Humane Officer Kelli Wright, who looked through Crabtree’s photos of the alleged chupacabra, the type of animal is clear.
“It’s definitely going to be a coyote with mange,” she said.
The long, pointy ears are a giveaway, Wright said.
There have been several reported sightings of coyotes in the area and mange is running rampant right now, she said.
“Anytime anything has mange, it tends to distort what they normally look like,” Wright said.
Just the other day, in fact, Wright had a resident report they found a dead possum/raccoon hybrid, but upon arrival, Wright realized it was a raccoon with mange, she said.
Coyote living conditions are so filthy that diseases like mange spread easily, she said. Mange is a disease in dogs, caused by mites that leads to hair loss and skin lesions.
However, Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden Jim Bob Van Dyke isn’t so sure.
Based on the picture he saw of the Lake Jackson creature, Van Dyke doesn’t think the creature is a coyote and agrees it looks similar to the creatures that appear in online photos and videos called chupacabras.
“But I would pretty much have to see hard evidence to be convinced it’s real,” Van Dyke said.
He thinks the picture might show a stray dog.
“We’ve seen a lot of stuff as game wardens,” Van Dyke said. “If there was one of those, we would have seen it by now.”
Katlynn Lanham covers Lake Jackson for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0150.