Mystery creature solution to budget crisis?

Unless you watch WBAL in Baltimore, WCAU (NBC-10) in Philadelphia, or get the local Philly news on, you don’t know about the “mystery creature” that, for the past year, has been skulking around Maryland. Here’s a photo:

Maryland mystery mammal

This creature has been showing up in backyards in Maryland, and it has perplexed experts everywhere. It might be a bear or fox with bad mange, a coyote, a hyena, or a hyena/coyote mix. One person even thought that it was the Jersey Devil, apparently pushed out of the Pine Barrens and seeking refuge down south.

Read more about the story here: Name That Mystery Mammal! You can even take a quiz.

Anyway, I think that, instead of legalizing slot machines, Maryland might be able to plug some budgetary holes by running a public sweepstakes on the true identity of the mystery mammal. You could draw it out for months, letting more detailed photos out, encouraging and discouraging various theories to spread the betting around, before finally capturing the creature and, on live television, having a zoologist name its species.

At the very least, how about a “mystery mammal” slot machine? I can imagine the bonus screen–you guess at a species, and points for it.

UPDATE 8/4/04: The mystery is solved! The animal was captured over the weekend. It was a baby red fox with sarcoptic mange.

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