7 August 2008, JellyBean @ 3:54 am

Just an hour’s drive from New Orleans in the Louisiana bayou, lurks a creature – not quite human and not quite beast. It stands seven feet tall with gray hair and yellow eyes and if you are lucky enough to see it, you should block your nose as it is always accompanied by a disgusting smell. It is the Honey Island Swamp Monster.

Widely regarded as one of the most pristine swampland habitats in the United States, the Honey Island Swamp covers an area that is over 20 miles long and nearly 7 miles across, with 34,896 of its 70,000 acres government sanctioned as permanently protected wildlife area.

It was 1974 when the world first heard of this monster when two Air Traffic Controllers, Harlan Ford and Ray Mills emerged from the swamp with an unbelievable story – and even more unbelievable evidence.

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The veteran hunters claimed to have stumbled upon a wild boar whose throat had been torn open. Nearby they saw unusual footprints they had never encountered before. Suddenly from the bushes came a sound. They turned around and saw a strange and frightening creature watching them.

They turned and ran back to civilization with the incredible story. Unable to shake what he had seen, Ford continued to hunt for the creature for the next six years. After his death in 1980, a reel of Super 8 film showing the creature was allegedly found among his belongings.

In addition to this footage, Harlan claimed to have made plaster casts of the creature. These casts which are now on display at the Abita Mystery House. They show a large, four-toed impression. In 1974, zoologists from Louisiana State University (LSU) and a cryptozoologist met with Harlan Ford to study the plaster casts of the creature’s footprints.

According to local tradition, Native Americans have been telling the story of the creature they named Letiche, for centuries. They describe it as “a carnivorous, aquatic-humanoid” which they believe was once an abandoned child who was raised by alligators. Cajuns called the beast the Loup Carou, which has often been misinterpreted as a werewolf.

This animal was blamed for many mysterious human and livestock deaths which have taken place over the decades.

Another local legend tells of a train crash in the area in the early twentieth century. A travelling circus was on the train, and from it a group of chimpanzees escaped, and interbred with the local alligator population. The result was a bizarre colony of repto-mammalian hybrids

Many other people have claimed to have seen or heard the monster in the swamp. On the other hand, many locals claim that Harlan was just out to make himself famous and that the monster does not exist.

Whatever the truth, people will still be fascinated by the strange, mysterious and unknown.

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