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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Beast of Truro - A Cat-Like Vampire in Massachusetts

Last year I had a two-part post on this blog (see part 1 here, and part 2 here) about the Beast of Bladenboro, North Carolina. That beast, however, may not be the only one of its kind.
Newspaper article on the Beast of Truro

Beginning in the autumn of 1981, Truro, Massachusetts was also terrorized by a mysterious cat-like beast that killed many pets and livestock. The New York Times ran a story on the "Beast of Truro" on January 17, 1982, which I am reprinting in its entirety below:

"'BEAST OF TRURO' MYSTIFYING CAPE COD 
"TRURO, Mass., Jan. 16- Who or what is the 'Beast of Truro?' Is it a mountain lion preying on local pets and livestock, a dog or a pack of dogs, an ocelot, a lynx, a wild cat or some yet unidentified creature?
"The purported beast, Cape Cod's answer to Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster, has been a major topic of conversation and news articles since last fall. 
"The first evidence that some unknown predator was loose came when a dozen dead cats were found in the same area in Truro in September. Two weeks ago, a 175-pound hog was so badly mauled, its flanks ripped by deep claw marks and a chunk of flesh ripped out of its neck, that it had to be killed. A few days later, two pigs were clawed in their pens in another part of town.
"Initially, the culprit was thought to have been a dog or a pack of wild dogs on the loose. Then people started reporting seeing a large furry creature that they did not recognize. Others heard strange noises at night.
"The most dramatic description came from William and Marsha Medeiros of Truro. They said they were taking a walk about three months ago on the bike path near Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro when the animal appeared 50 feet in front of them. 'Definite Long Ropelike Tail.'
"Mrs. Medeiros continued: 'My husband put his arm out to stop me and said, 'You see what I see?' Together we said 'It's not a fox.' It had a very definite long rope like tail like the letter J. It hit the ground and went up. We figured it was about as tall as up to our knees and weighed 60 or 80 pounds.
"'We were frightened and froze. He was in the path and didn't see us at first. As we made some noise, he turned and we saw his face with short ears.'
"Mr. Medeiros left the path to get a branch to protect them. The creature did not rush for cover, Mrs. Medeiros said, but walked slowly and casually along the path in front of them before disappearing into the nearby woods.
"The Medeiroses are sure that they saw a mountain lion. 'What we saw fits that description,' said Mrs. Medeiros. At first the couple was reluctant to report what they had seen. 'Who would believe it?' Mrs. Medeiros said.
"Others have reported hearing strange catlike cries in the night. Edward Oswalt, a Truro Selectman and health officer, said a New York man called in mid-December to say he had seen 'something resembling a mountain lion' in North Truro.
"Mr. Oswalt and seashore officers have made efforts to identify the culprit by its tracks near the pigpens, but in the sandy soil they could find no clear impressions. Mr. Oswalt said the 'general consensus is that the beast is a dog or dogs, but I don't know if you can put that together with what happened.' Could it be a mountain lion? 'That seems far out, but it's not impossible,' he replied. Records on Mountain Lions The mountain lion, also known as a cougar o r panther, is said to be the largest cat in North America. Males ca n be six feet long with at three-foot tail, and overall length of more than nine feet, and weigh more than 200 pounds. Records indicate that the last known mountain lion in Massachusetts was killed in 1858. Experts believe the Eastern mountain lion is probably extinct.
"Truro seems as an unlikely, but not impossible, habitat for a wild creature such as a mountain lion. Seventy percent of the town is undeveloped land, part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Packs of wild dogs occasionally kill deer in the woods. There is enough small game and domestic pets fro a wild animal to subsist on.
"Donald Rodenhaven of Wellfleet, who formerly worked at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos in New York and is familiar with the habits of wild animals, says the mode of attack more suggests a cat than a dog. Dogs do not slash like a cat, he said. May Have Left by Camper
"Mr. Rodenhaven said he believes the so-called Beast of Truro may be a mountain lion, ocelot or lynx, that may have escaped or was left behind by a summer camper. Both mountain lions and ocelots are for sale, he said.
 "The official view in Truro holds that the attacks on the pigs were by a dog or dogs. Thomas Kane, Truro's Assistant Town Clerk, said: 'I think it's a figment of the imagination. People I know, the people whose opinions I respect, think the damage was done by dogs. At one point, there was talk that the 'Beast' was a fisher. Finally it got so ridiculous that I ignored it.'
"Others, however, expect the "B east" to strike again."

I first heard about he Beast of Truro the other day when I saw a post by Jason Offutt about  monsters of Massachusetts on Mysterious Universe.  I thought it was an interesting story, as I always do when there are reports of a  mysterious creature killing livestock that no one can seem to figure out exactly what it is. The reports, to me at least, sound very similar to the reports of the Beast of Bladenboro in North Carolina. There are some differences (the B.o.B. usually attacked dogs, and the B.o.T. seemed to like to attack pigs) but the descriptions are somewhat the same.

Many people at the time thought the Beast of Truro was a mountain lion. By the witness descriptions, I would not be surprised if that is what it was. It would still be of interest to cryptozoologists, though, because of the "surviving Eastern Panther" theory. If mountain lions are still in Massachusetts, and are thought to have gone extinct there in the 1800s, that would still be a great discovery.

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