Mandibles of death
I really miss that ferocious, dog-eating monster. Last summer, I got weeks worth of stories from it and I wanted more.
A fisher? Ha! So say more than a half-dozen people who have contacted me. "There's been talk of a strange animal out here for years," said Steve Theberge, who lives in the Wales area. "They say it stands about 4 feet tall. I hear it's a pretty strange-looking creature."
Theberge is not making this up. His father-in-law has seen the creature. His son has seen it and his wife had an up-close look six years ago.
"This thing, it just hopped over the road and then it stood there," said Brenda Theberge. "It was tan and gray and it had these weird eyes. It was sunset and those eyes were just glowing."
It had the physical characteristics of a hyena, she said. It stood maybe 4 feet tall and it stared with those glowing eyes in a most menacing way. It was almost hairless.
"It was definitely scary to look at," Brenda said. "It was like the size of a pony."
For all his fascination with the creature, Steve has never seen it himself. But he says he was treated to the chilling scream of the beast just a short time ago. It sounded like a baby at first, then the creature began to growl and it was like no sound Theberge had ever heard.
Shortly after hearing the spine-tingling scream, Steve found tracks through dirt and mud in his yard. The tracks were bigger than his hand and bore the imprints of three claws.
"I've spent a lot of time in the Maine woods," Theberge said. "I've never seen a track like that."
When confronted with something that seems alien in the familiar surroundings of our homes, a primitive chill crawls up the spine. As evolved humans, we are at once terrified and fascinated by the unknown. We are a superior species, we reason, and thus we have control over our wildlife.
So when Leo Michaud reported that something had crept from the woods behind his Wales home and killed his Doberman pinscher, wildlife experts nodded knowingly. It was a fisher, they said. A small but vicious animal with a nasty reputation in the Maine woods. It was certainly not some exotic beast that crept down from the mountains.
Calls and letters about the mystery creature have been coming in since a story about the Doberman appeared in the paper. Almost nobody believes the ferocious, but relatively wee fisher, is responsible for the attack. The mystery creature of the Wales woods is the No. 1 suspect.
I know what you're thinking. You live in Lewiston where the only wildlife to be seen is in the downtown area, right? You scoff. You mock. You laugh until coffee comes out your nose and hum the theme from "Deliverance."
Don't get too comfortable just yet, naysayer. A letter-writer named Jamie Tapley tells me he has twice seen a large, fearsome creature in his Sabattus Road yard. He reported the sighting and a Maine Game Warden called him back. The Warden's guess? It was a fisher.
"I researched fishers online and this thing is bigger than a fisher," Jamie said. "This thing is nearly as tall as my collie."
Earlier this week, I was talking to Animal Control Officer Wendell Strout about a completely unrelated matter. I happened to mention what I was hearing about this mystery creature. Strout turned quiet a moment. As it happened, he had received a call earlier that day from a woman on Old Greene Road in Lewiston. The woman had seen a strange creature near the power lines by her home. The critter was at least 18 inches high with a long tail and she wanted to know what it was.
"She drew me a picture," Strout said. "It didn't look like anything I've seen before."
The number of reports alone is enough evidence for me. I'm thinking I should take a week off, pitch my tent in the Wales woods and wait for an encounter with this mystery beast. Sooner or later, it would find me. If the creature were really mean, I might not be back. But I'm pretty sure I know what it would say in a news story about the tragedy.
"It looks like LaFlamme was eaten," said wildlife experts. "It was probably a fisher."