of A kind
Stan Swofford, Staff Writer
— It's b-a-a-a-a-a-ck.
this time it might have a boyfriend.
what Bill Kurdian is thinking — and kind of hoping.
Eastern Randolph County resident
Cynthia Pell snapped this photo of the creature
through her kitchen window.
(Photo courtesy of Cynthia Pell)
was Kurdian who almost a year ago photographed what became
known far and wide as the
Randolph County "creature," an animal that
he thought probably was female. He has seen that same
creature within the past month.
Pell, who lives near Kurdian in eastern Randolph County,
thinks there could be a suitor slinking around. She
snapped a picture through her kitchen window about three
weeks ago of what she thought was Kurdian's creature, but
now believes, like Kurdian, that it wasn't the same one.
it was the same type of creature, she and Kurdian think,
and it just might be a male.
of the boys at Bennie Needham's Southside Barber Shop,
where Needham has an enlarged copy of Pell's picture,
think she got a shot of a "coydog."
that's "coy," as in coyote, and not
"boy," — although it could be a boy, they
whose hobby is wildlife photography, first saw his
creature one night last winter as it nibbled shelled corn
that he and his wife, Gayle, regularly throw out for the
animals. He and his wife have seen it numerous times since
an avid outdoorsman, reckons that he's seen just about
every critter North Carolina has to offer. Lots of them
— deer, foxes, raccoons, possums, even skunks — show
up behind his house for the corn.
has seen bobcats in the area and hears coyotes, which have
spread throughout the state, howling in woods near his
he said that he had never seen anything like the animal
that showed up in his back yard for the first time last
was about the size of a fox, but it wasn't a fox, he said.
It was reddish-brown with short hair. It had a long,
fox-like snout and large, pointed ears, like a cat's, and
a long, almost hairless, cat-like tail. It also had a full
and heavy-looking midsection, prompting him to think it
was female and perhaps pregnant or nursing, he said.
declined to say where he lives, except that it is in rural
eastern Randolph County. "I don't want people coming
out there. I'd hate for someone to injure it or kill
talked about the strange animal to just about everyone who
would listen. People laughed and said he was just getting
excited about a dog or maybe a fox. "They thought I
was crazy," he said.
captured the creature on film last May, and the News &
Record published the picture and a story in June.
Randolph County resident Bill
Kurdian photographed this unidentified animal in
his back yard May 20. Kurdian took the photo with
a motion-sensing camera. (Photo courtesy of
Several animal experts, including animal
curators at the North Carolina Zoo and elsewhere, examined
Kurdian's photo, but were unable to conclusively identify
of readers called or messaged the News & Record to
give their opinion. Some thought it was a red fox that
wandered down from the north woods of Canada; others
believed it was a common gray fox that had lost most of
its hair; and some were convinced that it was something
more exotic, perhaps an Australian Dingo, or an African
wild dog, or a maned wolf from South America.
some believed that Kurdian was trying to pull the wool, or
maybe the fox hair, over their eyes. They thought it was a
hoax — that Kurdian had altered his photo by splicing
together the head of a fox, body of a deer and the tail of
true, Kurdian said. He has set out humane traps to try to
catch the animal so he can get a sample of its DNA. So
far, the wily creature has avoided them. Kurdian sounded
hurt that anyone would suggest he committed a hoax.
was pleased when Pell, whose home is about a quarter-mile
from his, told him that she had taken a picture of the
he saw it, however, he did not think it was the animal he
had photographed. The creature in Pell's picture looks
larger, though thinner, has more hair and is grayer, he
it has the same long stout neck and pointed ears. He
thinks it could be a male of the same species as the
creature he photographed in his back yard. "I don't
believe it's a fox," he said.
husband, Steve Pell, took her picture to Montgomery Tech
where he studies taxidermy. "They didn't know what it
was," she said.
do the guys at Bennie Needham's barber shop. Needham said
one of the most plausible possibilities came from Charles
Langley, a customer who showed the picture to people in
South Carolina. "They told him it was a 'coydog,' a
cross between a coyote and a dog. They said they've got 'em
said she didn't know what the creature she saw could be,
but that "he had a cute little gait." Wouldn't
it be wonderful, she said, if he and Kurdian's creature
had puppies and they trotted into the lens of his camera
grinned. "Now that would make a great picture."