The latest in a series of attacks by wolf-like creatures in New England is creating an online sensation and, for some, is giving credence to a long-forgotten werewolf legend in northern Vermont.
Dozens of sightings have been reported describing various canids – the formal Latin name for a mammal of the dog family – appearing throughout the Green Mountain. The increased frequency of these sightings is giving some locals and many tourists cause for concern.
While most of the creatures sighted have been explained away by Fish and Wildlife officials as “coy-wolves” – an unusually large coyote-dog-wolf hybrid creature, some aren’t so easily dismissed such as the now well-known accounts by several Vermont residents and visitors reporting a wolf-like creature walking on two legs or the now infamous story of a pack of massive black wolves with glowing eyes pursuing unsuspecting drivers in the Franklin County area.
The latest encounter, however, is particularly rare as the creature in question actually made physical contact with an elderly couple, inflicting several wounds require medical attention.
The attack occurred in Salisbury, Vermont when Priscilla and George Gilman were attending to their usual farm chores when, out of nowhere, a large canid appeared seemingly “out of nowhere,” according to Priscilla, 76.
The creature was relentless, biting both Priscilla and George multiple times as the couple struck the animal repeatedly with little effect. Finally, George was able to pull away long enough to retrieve a firearm when it attacked again, this time biting the barrel of the gun. It was then that George fired and killed the animal.
The corpse was later retrieved by Vermont Game Warden Dale Whitlock, a 23-veteran of the service and reportedly delivered to Vermont Fish and Wildlife for analysis which determined that the animal was a coyote.
Coyotes, like most wild canids, are instinctively shy and, whenever possible avoid all contact with humans – a fact which makes the Gilman attack particularly strange. According to the Whitlock, he had never heard of a coyote attacking a human in Vermont in all his years with the state service, prompting Whitlock to conclude that the animal must have been rabid. The strange behavior also led Mark Scott, director of wildlife for Fish & Wildlife, to acknowledge not only the unprecedented nature of the attack but that, if the animal was in fact rabid, it would be the first report of a rabid coyote ever documented in Vermont.
Unlike the bipedal creatures reported elsewhere, the animal retrieved by Fish and Wildlife after the Gilman attack does not to appear to be as large as those from other sightings nor was it observed walking on two legs. Nevertheless, the incident has fueled online discussions and local speculation about a cover-up with some claiming that wolves – previously believed extinct in Vermont – have in fact returned as well as more fanciful claims that have contributed to the revival of one the state’s oldest monster legends.