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The Beast of Bray Road (or the Bray Road Beast) is a cryptid, or cryptozoological, creature first reported in 1949 on a rural road outside of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. The same label has been applied well beyond the initial location, to any unknown creature from southern Wisconsin or northern Illinois and all the way to Vancouver Island, Canada, that is described as having similar characteristics to those reported in the initial set of sightings.
Bray Road itself is a quiet country road near the community of Elkhorn. The rash of claimed sightings in the late 1980s and early 1990s prompted a local newspaper, the Walworth County Week, to assign reporter Linda Godfrey to cover the story. Godfrey initially was skeptical, but later became convinced of the sincerity of the witnesses. Her series of articles later became a book titled The Beast of Bray Road: Trailing Wisconsin's Werewolf.
The Beast of Bray Road is described by purported witnesses in several ways: as a bear-like creature, as a hairy biped resembling Bigfoot, and as an unusually large (2–4 feet tall on all fours, 7 feet tall standing up) intelligent wolf-like creature apt to walk on its hind legs and weighing 400-700 pounds. It also said that its fur is a brown gray color resembling a dog or bear.
A number of animal-based theories have been proposed. They include that the creature is an undiscovered variety of wild dog, a waheela (said to be a giant prehistoric wolf similar to Amarok), or a wolfdog or a coydog.
It is also possible that hoaxes and mass hysteria have caused some falsehoods and sightings of normal creatures to all be artificially lumped under the same label. Concurrently with the sightings in Wisconsin, there was a rash of similar encounters in the neighboring state of Michigan. Following the release of "The Legend", a popular song about the Michigan Dogman in 1987, author Steve Cook received dozens of reports, including photograph and film evidence of the creature. There is no known link between the sightings in adjoining states, other than the similarity of the creature described.
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In 2002 a film surfaced, supposedly made in the 1970s. It became known as the Gable film because of a paper label affixed to the box. The film, just over 3 minutes long, shows at first what looks like simple home movies, of kids riding snowmobiles, a man washing his truck. Near the end of the film, the person videotaping is riding down a remote dirt road, when he stops and goes out to check what looks to be a huge bulky creature on all fours. The creature suddenly runs after the cameraman, who tries to run away, before there is rustling and a brief shot of teeth and fangs before the camera falls to the ground. A second film was "discovered" and showed a police investigation after the cameraman in the first film is found dead. The police camera pans over to two officers examining the body, which is revealed to have been torn in half by whatever attacked the cameraman. In posts to several cryptozoology and related forums, a user identified as Don Coyote stated that he knew a relative of the dead body in the film. The relative said that the officer saw something that was apparently very traumatic. The officer lost his mind and began rambling "Dogs have four toes, Bears have five."
For years, the debate raged about whether the films were real or not. Finally in 2010, on the History Channel program, Monster Quest, Steve Cook confirmed that both films were fake, made in 2002 by Mike Agrusa, who had been a longtime fan of Cook's "The Legend," a song about the dogman. The "creature" in the first film was actually a man in a Ghillie suit. The body in the second film was made of painted styrofoam. Although Monster Quest dramatized the event to make it appear that their expert had analyzed and found curious flaws in the film, then dispatched werewolf expert Linda Godfrey to interrogate Cook to determine the truth, Cook claimed in a lengthy blog post that he informed all parties involved in the production that the film was fake weeks before filming on the episode began.
The Beast of Bray Road appears in the television program Mystery Hunters as well as several books and a motion picture.
The History Channel's TV series MonsterQuest launched an investigation on the beast, in which all witnesses were subjected to lie detector tests. The polygraph administrator could find no indication that any of the witnesses had fabricated their stories.
It has appeared in a season 3 episode of Lost Tapes, in which it attacks members of a radical militia.
Heavy metal band Cage wrote and released the song "The Beast of Bray Road", which appeared on their 2011 album Supremacy of Steel. A man by the name of Edison T. Crux wrote a novel titled, "Tale of the Wisconsin Werewolf," based on this mythology.