MonsterQuest: Mutant Canines

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 3rd, 2007

Turner skull

In the summer of 2006, during the investigation of the “dead animal on the Turner road,” which was blamed for the killings and injuries to dogs and livestock in central Maine for the last decade, an interesting piece of evidence turned up missing. It was the mystery creature’s skull (above). Having the skull would have clearly told us the animal was a dog, without going through all the DNA testing.

Now the skull has surfaced again for television.

The carcass that Mark LaFlamme and I examined (below) only a few days after its discovery was headless.

Loren on the Scene

But we knew the skull was still around, kept as a trophy, as we were told so by the woman who found the body. This skull was not brought forth for anyone to examine during the initial investigations. Why?

The discoverer joked she wanted to sell it on eBay. Instead, it appears, she just kept it for some good television appearances. 🙂

The beast is back …

Mystery. Drama. That really ugly photo of a dead animal.

The Turner beast is back.

And it’s coming to a TV near you.

“MonsterQuest,” a 13-week documentary series that delves into the evidence surrounding Bigfoot, Birdzilla and other legendary monsters, will profile the Turner beast – and the international hysteria that fueled the mystery – in an episode called “Mutant Canines.” The show will air Wednesday [December 5, 2007] on the History Channel.

The series was created by Whitewolf Entertainment, a Minnesota-based production company. Producer Doug Hajicek learned about the Turner beast after the Sun Journal ran a story about a strange animal found dead beside some Turner powerlines in August 2006.

Many people thought the grotesque body was that of a mystery beast believed to have killed dogs in Greene and Wales, a long-rumored creature with glowing eyes, a chilling cry and the features of a wolverine, hyena and Tasmanian devil.

News of the beast, as well as photographs of the body, spread fast and far, appearing on TV news broadcasts, cryptozoology Web sites and news pages.

Hajicek read about it on the Internet and grabbed the case for his mutant canine episode.

“It is an interesting story because a lot of people don’t realize it’s not really unique, what’s going on in Maine. It’s happening all over,” Hajicek said.

Although Sun Journal-sponsored DNA tests ultimately confirmed the body was that of a dog – not, as many believed, a Chupacabra[s], werewolf, extraterrestrial or mythological bogeyman from American Indian folklore – Whitewolf Entertainment came to Maine last winter to film a segment on the Turner beast maelstrom and the local legend that fed it.

It helped that there was a body.

Maine Mystery Beast

“Turner is the hub of the (Mutant Canines) show. The reason is it’s one of the cases we can apply science to, and that’s why it’s important,” Hajicek said.

During the weeklong shoot in Turner, crews talked with area believers, skeptics and scientists. Sun Journal reporter Mark LaFlamme, who wrote the Turner beast stories, and Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout were also interviewed.

“I simply told them it was nothing more than a dog,” Strout said. “That’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning: It was a dog.”

LaFlamme and Strout were also filmed lugging bait and trudging through the woods in an attempt to trap a real mutant canine for the show.

“I wasn’t worried so much about encountering the beast out there in the deep dark woods,” LaFlamme said. “I was mostly concerned about getting mauled by a descending vulture or something attracted to my buckets of beast bait.”

So did MonsterQuest find the mutant canine responsible for the local legend? Hajicek is mum.

“You’ll have to watch the show,” he said.

The Turner beast’s History Channel debut hasn’t escaped the attention of at least one Lewiston business. Mulligan’s Indoor Golf & Pub will show the Mutant Canines episode on all nine of its big screen HD TVs.

MonsterQuest airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday on the History Channel. by Lindsay Tice , Staff Writer, Lewiston Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

Maine Mutant

Goofy as the Maine Mutant by Peter Loh.

It will be interesting to see if “MonsterQuest” got it, as far as the Turner Beast goes.

As one of the investigators in this case, who was interviewed for this program, I know the early critics of examining the Turner dog still don’t understand the reality behind the media hype. There was an actual terrorizing series of events due to a real cryptid that was or is still out there.

But this division was unclear to some people.

The way it broke down involved two different situations happening concurrently:

(1) An unknown animal (a cryptid) in the central Maine woods (outward from Greene) has been killing and injuring livestock and domestic pets for the last decade or more. It may be a mystery canid, but seems more akin to a mystery felid (a black panther or eastern cougar).

(2) The Turner beast, despite the media hype, was found and incorrectly labeled by a few locals. It was obviously, from the beginning, nothing more than a dog was killed beside Rt. 4.

Unfortunately, the worldwide media mixed up the two. Let’s hope “MonsterQuest” gets the story right. They may.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

14 Responses to “MonsterQuest: Mutant Canines”

  1. Alligator responds:

    Loren Coleman said this
    “There was an actual terrorizing series of events due to a real cryptid that was or is still out there.”

    There are few things more fearsome or terrifying than a wild feral dog or worse, a pack of them. There have been instances (though rare) of hunters, and farmers being attacked. More so than wolves or coyotes, they indulge in chasing and killing for “fun” whereas wolves and coyotes tend to kill only when they need food. Then in some places, you have these dogs interbreeding with the wild canids producing some odd looking animals. I don’t know that a big, butt ugly mean dog or dog/wolf cross qualifies as a “mutant” per se but it is not a naturally occurring animal. It is an invasive species that is a threat to wildlife, domestic animals and potentially humans.

    Gray wolves, red wolves and mountain lions (cougars, panthers) were basically extirpated east of the Mississippi by the 1890s. Coyote range stopped at the Mississippi. Bears were greatly diminished and only left in pockets throughout former range. West of the Mississippi, these animals were severely reduced in numbers and hitting rock bottom numbers in the 1920s and 30s thanks to federal government predator control programs.

    Fast forward to today. We’ve had over 50 years of improved wildlife management and restoration of habitat. Populations of the top predators have rebounded and the evidence is, they are reoccupying areas of former range. Coyotes are now found in abundance in every state east of the Mississippi. Humans who have had no experience or familiarity with predators “in their backyard” for the past 100 years are now beginning to experience them. Add in the domestic dogs going feral or mixing with wild canids and possibly exotic pets being released or escaping and it is no wonder we get these cryptid animal reports.

    I don’t dismiss the reports of dead livestock and pets, rather I question the way the media handles them. They seem to either dismiss or trivialize the reports or they hype them up as a “unknown monster”. In a way, isn’t the press being mocking of cryptozoology when they do this? I mean the Turner Beast was what it looked like – an awfully ugly feral dog but why did the press spin and hype it the way they did?

  2. bill green responds:

    hey loren, im realy looking forward to watching mutant canines on monsterquest. it should be great. loren when are you going to be on future segments of monsterquest. thanks bill green

  3. cryptidsrus responds:

    Looking forward to seeing you on MONSTERQUEST, Loren!!!

    Although I must say, even though that WAS a dead dog by the side of the road, I can certainly understand why people mislabelled it. Hideous critter.

  4. cryptidsrus responds:

    For ONE moment, I actually thought it resembled some of the more famous “phantom dogs” of America.

  5. ammoniad responds:

    Hey Loren, is it true Monster Quest is going to do a program about the Werewolf sightings in Wisconson?

  6. troll responds:

    Yep, according to my friend Kim Del Rio, who was interviewed for the show, and The Monsterquest website the following episode will air on Janurary 16th.

    American Werewolf – Eyewitnesses in Wisconsin and Michigan report seeing a tall hairy man – beast some describe as a dogman…a centuries old legend based on myth, not a real animal. But what are they seeing? MonsterQuest will deploy professional hunters and trackers in an area with recent sightings, armed with a tranquilizer gun. And for the first time eyewitness accounts will be put to the test, using polygraphs and hypnosis&the results will astonish.

  7. kittenz responds:

    The published descriptions that I have seen, of the mystery predator in Maine, sound a lot like descriptions of a lynx.

  8. redneck rick responds:

    Love the show, big fan of anything crypto, but I am objective. I grew up in the country in Arkansas and I have seen what a pack of coyoties can do to a calf and seen what they can do when they get in the chicken house or the hog pen and it aint pretty. And as soon as a human shows up they are out of here. So when they say mutant I think feral dogs or wild animal or even a hybrid of the two. But I am a crypto nerd so I keep watching the shows and when I go hunting I keep an eye out for anything moving in the brush. These days I shoot my camara more then my gun so who Knows, I might get lucky and catch somthing on film (digital) some day. Again, love the show.

  9. curious86 responds:

    you’re wrong cryptidsrus, that’s not a dead dog; its in the muzzle man! The muzzle is too damn small for any known dog, wild or tamed. I don’t care how many breeds you need to mix into a dog, you can even cross it with a Wolverine, you can’t produce an animal with that short a snout. And trust me, I’ve seen a lot of dead dog carcasses, you can’t chalk it up to bloating or something. I saw that photo tonight on the show and noticed instantly that peculiarity; this is no ordinary animal.

  10. mystery_man responds:

    Curious86- What, you’ve never seen a pug or English bulldog? You can really say there is no way a dog can have a muzzle that short? I beg to differ.

  11. hobgoblin responds:

    Just saw the Mutant Canine doc and thought it was entertaining. Still no word on the DNA though? When I initially saw the pics of the Turner animal, it reminded me immediately of an illustration in Douglas Barlowe’s Guide to Fantasy. It’s a side portrait of the title creature from the 70’s era book/film “Wolfen”. Again, pure fantasy, but the face is uncannily similar. Check it out if you get a chance.

  12. Speckie responds:

    I enjoyed the documentary as well, but fell asleep just before the end. Did the DNA test come back?

  13. kittenz responds:

    During the course of my life I have handled literally thousands of dogs: my own pets, clients’ dogs, strays and feral animals, shelter dogs and more. I’ve had pet wolves, wolf/dog and coyote/dog hybrids, and foxes. When I first saw the closeup photo of the notorious “Maine Mutant”, during the initial media frenzy that followed its discovery, I knew at once that it was some type of canid, but the photo was shot in such a way and at such an angle that the face was foreshortened and its appearance distorted. It was hard to see whether it was a stray dog or some sort of hybrid. But after seeing the full-body photos, it was pathetically obvious that the poor thing was not a Mutant at all, but a badly neglected mixed breed Chow dog.

    What I found fascinating was the media sensationalism, and subsequent worldwide debate, that surrounded this very ordinary incident. Who would have thought that one forlorn little roadkilled dog could be immortalized in such a way?

    I’m not complaining though, because that is how I first found Cryptomundo :).

  14. westman67 responds:

    About 6 years ago I saw this hyena/dog looking animal in a forest behind a school in Park Forest Illinois. It had the body characteristics of a hyena but it had the fur color and length of a dog. The fur color was black or grey and the body length was about 4 ft. The animal was skinny but still looked like it had alot of muscle on it. I was about 10-20 ft away from it but it was clear as day. My teachers never let me go into the forest but my whole school saw it. My theory is that some guy somewhere mixed the DNA of a hyena and a dog or wolf and did some weird thing with them but I can’t say for sure.

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