The Shunka Warakin or Shunka Warak’in is an unknown presumably canine-like creature reported through out the northern United States including Montana, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa, often described by eyewitnesses as being a primitive wolf or hyena like creature. The Ioway, and several other Native American Indian tribes in the region, called the creature Shunka Warak’in, which translates into carrying off dogs, because it would often sneak into Indian camps at night to steal their dogs. The first documented sightings of the Shunka Warak’in by white settlers began in the 1880’s when members of the Hutchins family settled down in the Madison River Valley, in the lower part of Montana. Not long after the Hutchins settled into the area, they, along with several other locals, began to encounter a strange wolf like animal. In his book, Trails to Nature’s Mysteries: The Life of a Working Naturalist, published in 1997, Ross Hutchins wrote the following description of some encounters that his grandfather had with the Shunka Warak’in.
One winter morning my grandfather was aroused by the barking of dogs. He discovered that a wolf like beast of dark color was chasing my grandmother’s geese. He fired his gun at the animal but missed. It ran off down the river, but several mornings later it was seen again at about dawn. It was seen several more times at the home ranch as well as at other ranches ten or fifteen miles down the valley. Whatever it was, it was a great traveler
Those who got a good look at the beast described it as being nearly black and having high shoulders and a back that sloped downward like a hyena. Then one morning in late January, my grandfather was alerted by the dogs, and this time he was able to kill it. Just what the animal was is still an open question. After being killed, it was donated to a man named Sherwood who kept a combination grocery and museum at Henry Lake in Idaho. It was mounted and displayed there for many years. He called it ringdocus.
The youngest Hutchins, who had a Ph.D. in zoology, examined the beast and had no idea what the animal was, he speculated that it may have been a hyena that had escaped from a circus; however he did note that the nearest circus was hundreds of miles away. Over many years the Hutchins story was all but forgotten, that is until cryptozoologist Mark A. Hall uncovered the story after of a creature or group of creatures resembling the Shunka Warak’in were sighted in Nebraska, Iowa, Alberta and Illinois. Mr. Hall also uncovered that a photograph of the a mounted hyena like animal, the co called ringdocus originally shot by Ross Hutchins grandfather, existed, however its whereabouts remain unknown.
In 1995, following the discovery by Mark A. Hall, Lance Foster, an Ioway Indian, told renowned cryptozoologist Loren Coleman of a creature he and his tribe called the Shunka Warak’in that looked something like a hyena and cried like a person when it was killed. Foster, who heard of the mounted ringdocus carcass speculated that it may be an example of Shunka Warak’in, which he knew from his own experiences and those of relatives in Montana and Idaho.
In December 2005 a strange wolf like animal began killing livestock in the McCone, Garfield and Dawson counties of Montana. By October of 2006 the animal, now known as The Creature of McCone County, had killed more than 120 various forms of livestock and appeared in several news articles including one in the May 2006 issue of USA Today. On November 2, 2006 the Montana Wildlife Service shot and killed a creature that may have been responsible for these killings.
Originally thought to be a wolf, the animal that was shot showed characteristics that were not common with any wolf species known in the area. The animal that was killed appeared to have orange, red and yellow fur, where as wolves known to live in the area are of a grey, black and brown color. Muscle tissue was sent to the University of California Los Angeles where DNA samples were taken in an attempt to compare it to the Northern Rockies wolf. The carcass was sent to the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon for genetic study, however no record of the results of these studies could be found at this time.
One theory suggests that the Shunka Warak’in may be a form of prehistoric mammal called the Borophagus, an ancient hyena like canine known to inhabit North America more than 13 thousand years ago during the Pleistocene era. A later theory, which could only explain the 2005 to 2006 encounters, is that the creature shot in Montana was genetically altered and raised in captivity only to later escape its creators. The truth is we may never know what the Shunka Warak’in is, or was, all we can do is wait for the test results of the creature shot in Montana, and if those results show it to be a scientifically accepted animal we are left to speculate if every sighting of the Shunka Warak’in is just the misidentification of an established creature.