Update: Friday, July 10, 11:45 p.m.
Paint Girl and I have been reading your comments with extreme interest all day! Thank you for your suggestions and links, we have followed them all! And Juliette, I was cracking up at your husband saying that maybe the screeching ravens were the mutant monkey!!
We are still stumped, although you all had some good leads and ideas. When I re-read my description of the tail, I said it was "hairless" but I don't actually think it was bald, it was dark colored but probably had short hair on it. But it was not bushy, we both agreed on that. That is what really stumps us the most. Most coyote and foxes have bushy coats and tails (except a weird genetic issue with "Sampson" foxes where they can lose their hair due to mange, which apparently can happen to coyote, as well.) Big wildcat tails are typically a lot longer and more rounded/thicker, this one was more medium in length, and thin. And bobcats have hardly any tail.
A fisher seems interesting, especially since we were within half a mile or so from a lake/swampy area. A fisher might be shorter than what we saw though, and once again, appears to have more fur. The same goes for a wolverine, which seemed more bear-like and also, long fur. Our animal did not appear bear-like.
There was a sign for a lost black lab posted in the trail parking area, and several of the phone number tags had been removed, so perhaps there had been sightings? If it had been lost for a long while, I suppose it could have been thin enough to resemble what we saw. But a lost domesticated dog would not flee from us into and over the underbrush that quietly and quickly, like a wild animal. In fact, it probably would have ran off down one of the two trails that "Y'd" in front of us.
The vision of what I saw slowly becomes less clear in my mind every time I replay it. I'm wearing out my memory tape, I'm afraid. We rode the same trails today and saw nothing but a deer. We looked for tracks in the general area we saw the unidentified animal, but horses had pretty much walked over that path enough to cover any tracks.
I am thinking of contacting the local wildlife/game department and at least reporting what we saw. Maybe animal wildlife researchers would at least be interested. If enough people reported a particular animal, it could help them to better gauge a resurgence in a nearly extinct or endangered animal species.
We'll probably never know, and I imagine in a few days, the quest to figure it out will begin to diminish. Regardless, I don't think we'll ever forget that dark thing running in front of us, and how eerie it is to have no clue what it was.
Life is so strange sometimes. Case in point: after I posted about my anxiety regarding the variety of wild animals potentially habitating the woods we trail ride in, we go on a trail ride the next day and see a wild animal. We didn't see a bear, or a cougar, or a coyote, or a bobcat.
We saw a mutant monkey.
At least, that is what Paint Girl said it was.
We were ambling down the forested trail near the end of our ride, among the ferns and sandy and tree root-covered paths. We were approaching the open pipeline road that takes us back to the trail head parking lot. We were nearly out of the woods. Paint Girl was in the front, then it happened so fast.
Something came out of the woods to our right. It appeared to bound onto the trail, then continue running. It crossed in front of us then continued into the ferns and heavy brush off trail to our left, barely making a sound as it went. It was very light, and quiet on it's feet.
So what was it? Here is the description that we both pretty much agree upon:
Dark in color (dark gray/black, no obvious markings.)
Lithe, narrow, thin
Ears: don't recall, nothing prominent
Shorter in stature, possibly just above our knee height at it's back.
Head shape: I can't recall, roundish in shape? Paint Girl said she didn't think it had a long muzzle, there was no noticeable snout, more like a cat's face.
Medium/long, thin, hairless tail, streaming out behind it.
Movement: ran on all fours like a dog, but seemed faster (Paint Girl compared it to the greyhound breed.) Nearly silent. We have heard dogs in the woods before as they accompany riders on the trails, and they are noisy and crash through the bushes.
Okay. I'm not sure it was a mutant monkey. After we saw it, Paint Girl turned to me and said something to the effect of "What in the world was that?" I think I said, "It was probably a coyote." That was my first guess. We talked about it for a few minutes, and turned to continue on the trail. Approaching us was a couple out for a walk. I said to Paint Girl, "Maybe it was their dog?" We asked them and they said no, they didn't have a dog with them. We told them we just spotted a wild animal that we couldn't really identify.
If I'm going to see a wild animal in the woods, I would like to see something that is identifiable. Not something that is a mutant, a ghostly spirit, or a Native American mythical creature. Or, was it a coyote that was having a bad hair day (in other words, mangy or had lost all of it's hair?) A wild dog? A fox? An illegal wild zoo animal someone released into the woods? A young cougar or mountain lion (but why the dark color, and the tail didn't seem right.) Honestly, we are stumped. We can replay the image of what we saw over and over, but without a photo, it's hard to really know what we saw or what our mind is reconstructing after the fact.
So, my new question of the day: has anyone ever seen anything on the trail.....but had no idea what it was? Or any guesses to what we saw? (Maybe we should do a sketch to help you out!)
It was a bit of strange ride overall, the sun was out but the bugs were pretty bad, Paint Girl's mare was being a stinker at times, and in a different area before the wild animal encounter, we heard crazy ravens. Here is a little video. (I got Paint Girl picking her nose, too. JUST KIDDING!)
Miss Lucie Grace
1 year ago