Biologists have anatomically confirmed that a hairless animal shot by a man in Nelson County nearly two weeks ago is not a chupacabra.
The animal is actually a hairless raccoon, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say.
The mythical chupacabra has been a mystery since 1995, with sightings reported all over the United States, from Texas to Maine. The legend says the elusive dog-like creature attacks livestock, bleeding them dry of blood — their favorite being goats.
"It's definitely a hideous creature. There's just no way around it. Without that fur it gives it a whole new appearance as to what it is," said wildlife biologist Steven Dobey.
Kentucky wildlife officials have seen this strange creature before. In 2007, an animal was caged while it was still alive and brought to their attention. The similarities are visible.
"The anatomical features of it, the skeletal features, the general appearances, particularly the paws, it gives it away. That it is in fact a raccoon," Dobey.
Despite the identification, scientists are still interested in studying the animal further because this kind of hairless animal is becoming more common in Kentucky.
"Not to determine the species. We know it's a raccoon, but to determine what the cause of this is. It's obvious it's some type of hair loss," Dobey said.
It is not mange, which has been the case with chupacabra sightings in the West, that have mainly been coyotes with mange. In the East, the hairless creatures are suffering a skin disorder similar to alopecia in humans.
A biologist went up Monday afternoon to collect skin samples to further their studies on the animal.
Because of all the worldwide attention, Mark Cothern, the man who shot the raccoon, is taking the animal to a taxidermist to mount it.
Dobey said there are several reasons why an animal might be hairless. The reasons include disease, some sort of shock or trauma, or a genetic defect, even a virus spread by ticks. So far, there's still more study needed for an answer to the growing occurrences in animals in the East and in Kentucky.