CHESTERLAND, Ohio – Is it a goat? Is it a sheep? No, it’s a ... what is that thing?
Wildlife experts haven’t been able to positively identify at least three animals spotted roaming the woods in Chester Township, about 20 miles east of Cleveland, over the past few months.
“We’re not exactly sure what they are,” said Allen Lea of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, which has reviewed photos taken by a resident. “But they’re definitely not a native species. They’re not where they belong.”
Police have received calls from residents offering varying descriptions, with possible IDs including bighorn sheep and wild goat.
Sal LaPuma, an avid outdoorsman, said he recently got within 30 feet of one of the animals before it ran away.
“The moment I saw it, I knew it was out of place,” he said.
Sgt. Debbie Davis said her Internet searches have failed to identify the “half deer, half ram” she has seen while on patrol.
Experts at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo reviewed the photos and speculated the animals could be tahrs (a wild goat indigenous to Asia) or mouflons (a wild sheep found in Europe and Asia).
Officials believe the animals could have been dumped by their owner or escaped from captivity, although nobody has filed a missing-animal report, township police Chief Mark Purchase said.
He said there were no plans to trap the animals.
“We’re not looking to run them out,” Purchase said. “But we would like to know what they are.”