KENNEBUNK, Maine — For now, the mystery continues.
While wildlife experts thought they would know by Monday exactly what type of animal was found in Kennebunk last week, Maine Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay said this morning that despite now having the animal in his possession, he’s just not sure.
“I have it in a cooler here and I’ll be looking at it in just one minute,” he said early Monday morning. “This one’s strange.”
Lindsay said he plans to take measurements and perform a full necropsy on the animal — possibly determining cause of death — sometime Monday.
“I’m still leaning toward domestic,” he said.
While speculation on the animal has ranged from wolf to coyote to dog, Lindsay said he’s trying to decide between coyote and dog but hasn’t been able to just yet.
“Some features on it did appear more doglike,” Lindsay said. “But up close, one feature that’s typical of a wild canid is that the teeth are totally clean, no tartar at all.”
Lindsay said domestic dogs normally have tartar build-up left behind by pet food.
Lindsay picked up the dead animal late Friday afternoon. He said it was in very good condition.
The mystery first started when the white animal staggered out of the woods around 7 p.m. March 18 behind a Balsam Lane home, crawled under the back porch and died.
Resident Ryan Chiasson, 14, was at home with friends.
“My friend was in the bathroom and looked out window and said, ‘Oh my God, there’s a wolf!’” she said.
At that point, the three teens ran onto the back porch.
“It came up and stared at us,” Chiasson said. “It was limping and its mouth was open. It seemed confused.”
Chiasson said the animal then went under the porch and laid down. The teens, fearing it was perhaps rabid, went in to call police.
“When we came back out, it was dead,” Chiasson said.
While Chiasson and her friends thought the all-white animal was an albino wolf, a Kennebunk police officer who came to the scene told them it was a coyote.
Lindsay said while having the coyote die near a home is unusual, what really set this one apart was its color.
“You don’t usually have white coyotes,” he said, adding that most are a grizzled gray or beige. “It’s very unusual.”
So unusual, in fact, that a friend of the Chiassons came along Tuesday afternoon to take the animal he identified as a female to a taxidermist.
On Wednesday, though, when Lindsay looked at the photos sent to him by the York County Star, he said he wasn’t convinced the animal was a coyote.
He was so intrigued that he spent nearly three days trying to track down who had the dead animal.
He finally learned it had been discarded in the woods behind a business in Alfred.
Bean Burpee said no dogs have been reported missing in the area.