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The following is an article from the Huntington Herald-Dispatch on November 19th 1966 titled 'That Mothman: Would You Believe A Sandhill Crane?' By Ralph Turner

The case of the Mason County monster may have been solved Friday by a West Virginia University Professor.

Dr. Robert L. Smith, associate professor of wildlife biology in WVU's division of forestry, told Mason Sheriff George Johnson at Point Pleasant he believes the "thing" which has been frightening people in the Point Pleasant area since Tuesday is a large bird which stopped off while migrating south.

"From all the descriptions I have read about this 'thing' it perfectly matches the sandhill cranes ." said the professor. "I definitely believe that's what these people are seeing."

Since Tuesday more than 10 people have spotted what they described as a "birdman" or "mothman" in the area of the McClintick Wildlife Station.

They described it as a huge gray-winged creature with large red eyes.

Dr. Smith said the sandhill crane stands an average of five feet and has gray plumage. A feature of its appearance is a bright red flesh area around each eye. It has an average wing spread of about seven feet.

"Somebody who has never seen anything like it before could easily get the impression it is a flying man." he said. "Car lights would cause the bare skin to reflect as big red circles around the eyes."

While such birds are rare to this area, Dr. Smith said this is migration time and it could not be too difficult for one or more of the birds to stop off at the wildlife refuge. There are no official sightings of such birds in West Virginia, although there have been unconfirmed reports in the past, he added.

The birds are rarely seen east of the Mississippi now except in Florida. Distribution mainly is in Canada and the population is increasing in the Midwest. They winter in southern California, in Mexico and along the Gulf Coast.

According to one book, the sandhill crane is a "fit successor" to the great whooping crane which in almost extinct. The book states that the height of the male when it stands erect is nearly that of a man of average stature, while they bird's great wings carry its compact and muscular body with perfect ease at a high speed.

Dr. Smith said that while the birds are powerful fliers they cannot match the 100 mph speed one couple reported the "thing" attained when pursuing their car.

Dr. Smith warned that while the sandhill crane is harmless if left alone, that if cornered it may become a formidable antagonist. Its dagger-like bill is a dangerous weapon which the crane does not hesitate to use when at bay and fighting for its life. Many a hunter's dog has been badly injured, he said.

Some of those who reported seeing the "monster" remembered best the eerie sound it made. The description of the sandhill crane also fits there.

"The cry of the sandhill crane is a veritable voice of nature, untamed and unterrified," says one book on birds. "Its uncanny quality is like that of the loon, but is more pronounced because of the much greater volume of the cane's voice. Its resonance is remarkable and its carrying power is increased by a distinct tremolo effect. Often for several minutes after the birds have vanished the unearthly sound drifts back to the listener, like a taunting trumpet from the under-world."

Meanwhile, for the fourth night in a row, an area of the wildlife station again was clogged Friday night with the curious searching for the "thing."

The latest reported sighting came Friday morning from two Point Pleasant Volunteer firemen, Captain Paul Yoder and Benjamin Enochs.

"As we were going into the picnic area in the TNT area, Paul and I saw this white shadow go across the car," Mr. Enochs reported.

"This was about 1:30 a.m. Paul stopped the car and I went into the field, but couldn't see anything. I'd say this definitely was a large bird of some kind."

Meanwhile, authorities issued a warning to "monster hunters."

If the "thing" is migratory crane they had better not shoot it. Migratory birds of all kinds are protected by federal and state wildlife laws.

Sheriff Johnson said he would arrest anybody caught with a loaded gun in the area after dark.

There were earlier reports of armed people in the area.

Sheriff Johnson also warned that the scores of persons searching the abandoned powerhouse in the TNT area after dark risk possible serious injury.

Moth291

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