CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — The abbagoochie is a creature native to Costa Rica that was introduced to West Virginia by the state Division of Natural Resources to combat growing predator populations, outlets reported in the early 2000s. They are said to be about as large as a medium-sized dog at three feet long and 35 pounds when fully grown. Many internet accounts refer to them as “dry-land piranhas” that will eat anything.
As what happens with most introductions of non-native species to an area, the abbagoochie population quickly got out of control. This problem was first reported in 2001 by Jim Wilson from the Webster Echo, saying the creatures had been attacking wildlife and livestock across the Webster Springs area. The article described the creature as a fierce carnivore that would eat animals as small as a rabbit to as large as a horse. The community was gripped by fear as the number of sightings reportedly increased after the article’s publication. Several accounts described farmers carrying shotguns with them at all times and parents would walk their children to school bus stops.
However, only a few short weeks after the article’s release, Wilson confessed to the article being a hoax. How shocking. Despite the article being a fabrication, sightings of the creature have persisted in the years since. In 2008 Wilson even published a book about the creature “and other game warden stories” called “Abbagoochie Gotcha!”