Friday, October 16, 2009

Hyenas in Kentucky

Researcher Bart Nunnelly has reported of a couple of cases of hyenas in Kentucky. One was near Uniontown, and the other was spotted (no pun intended) near Lexington in 2004:

"About 10 feet in front of the car, on the grassy area next to the expressway, we saw a strange 'creature'. It looked like a hyena, bluish-gray fur with blackish spots or splotches. It was crouched down as if going to pounce. As our car passed it looked over at us. It's face had a snout and long teeth. It bared its teeth at us and we were so shocked we just drove on. I can't imagine what it was. It was about 3 feet tall at the shoulder with a sloping back and narrower haunches. Its head was big and it had a fur 'fringe' along its back."

I'm not sure why they say "I can't imagine what it was" if they just got through saying it looked like a hyena, but okay. And that's a lot of detail given from someone who saw it from a moving car.

We do know there are coyotes in Kentucky, and that sounds more believable than a hyena. Seen from a distance in a moving car, a dirty or splotchy-looking coyote could fit the description and be mistaken for a hyena, I suppose. See coyote photo below:

Two 2009 posts to Jeff and Claudia's blog speculate on wolf sightings. Wolves are increasingly common again in Kentucky, and have even been deliberately reintroduced in some areas. These, too, could easily be responsible for alleged hyena sightings. See Red Wolf and Gray Wolf photo below:

On the other hand, it's still not impossible that hyenas could have somehow entered Kentucky's environment, as escapees from zoos or private breeders. Stranger things have happened, after all, like the spate of kangaroo sightings in Kentucky in the 1970s.


Anonymous said...

My bet is on a coyote. They can pass for a hyena from a distance and as that one photo shows a thylacine when their mouths are open.

I also think mangy coyotes account for quite a few of the popular Texas chupacabra least the ones they show videotapes of on most monster hunter type tv shows.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the episode of Mystery Quest (I think that was the program on The History Channel) where they explained the Beast of Gevauden (France) as a striped, long-haired hyena that was trained to kill on command by the same person that became a hero for killing it with a silver bullet.

phil said...

Google african wild dogs. they are available as pets. likely someone lost theirs.

angela said...

In 2006, my father and I were out for an evening drive only a few miles from his country home. Along a road that we had driven often (Hwy 68)in Mercer Co., we witnessed an animal that looked exactly like a hyena. It was almost dark, but the sun was still visible toward the west, and suddenly something darted across the road. My Dad slowed his car to allow the animal opportunity to cross the path, and I was sitting on the passenger side. As the animal crossed the road, he slowed down, breifly stopped, and turned to look at us. At this time, our car was moving at a crawl. The animal was only three feet from me, and both of us got a very good look at it. The animal was spotted like a leapard and quite tall. The animal's snout had me puzzled - it didn't resemble any domestic dog or a cat. My father, 70 years old, said "What IS THAT?!" But neither of us could identify. When I returned home, I spend several hours that evening researching "KY Mammals", trying to find 'something' that resembled the strange animal that we saw. A few weeks later, I saw a hyena on TV and called my Dad to tell him I found out what 'it' is.

Sima K. said...

Recently mt brother and I have seen some very starnge large dog. It has a more narrow snout than anything I've ever seen before. It was large and black, and it moved quickly, or so claims my brother. I went otsid because I noticed footprints were he had seen it. They were exteremly large, almost the size of a full-grown man's foot, only they had a distinct kanine shape. I also heard a rustle in the bushes which promted me to get back inside, once inside, I saw the hind legs of something large and black. I managed to get pictures of these prints, if anyone has an explenation for what this could be please feel free to contact me at I a indesperate need of answers, I know Louisville, KY does not hve any native wolves.

Anonymous said...

My grandson and I were driving on Frame road in Elkview, WV and saw an animal in a field. I told my grandson to look and I slowed down. The shoulder facing us was brownish tan and his fur also had black in it I am 60 years old and have lived all my life in the mountains and have seen dozens of types of wild animals. We went home and tryed to find a match to the animal we saw. The closest match we found was a hyena

PS I have seen coyotes and a half dog/wolf bred animal