Darren Marcy: Monkey business in Dorset ends as a prickly affair

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The great Dorset monkey hunt of 2019 came to a close recently when the announcement came that instead of a monkey, authorities had located a porcupine at the end of a long, winding set of tracks in the snow.

But for a while in Dorset, all the talk was about a monkey that had been seen and was now believed to be roaming the hills in the West Road area just west of the Dorset village.

A monkey?

It all started when Tito (some names have been changed to protect the nonexistent) was seen running in front of a car on West Road.

But, it wasn't a couple of hundred yards away — it was right in front of the car.

"Close enough he could tell it was a monkey," was the way it was described.

And not just one, but two motorists saw the monkey, err, porcupine, cross the road. Both stopped and both said, "did you see that monkey?"

At least I'm guessing that's what they said, since I wasn't there.

The fact is, both drivers thought they had seen a monkey. And one of those drivers was someone the community trusts and relies upon for seeing things accurately. That's as close to embarrassing this person as I will get.

The point is, when this person said he had seen a monkey, nobody doubted it.

Plus, he had photos.

Not of the monkey, mind you, but of some tracks where the monkupine ran into the forest.

I saw the photos. The snow was crusty, and the tracks could have been made by about 33 different types of animals. I wouldn't think monkey would be one of those 33 different types, but I wasn't there.

Sgt. Jesse Bravata, who patrols the Dorset area for the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, said he didn't see the animal, but it was described as a dark brown, medium-sized monkey.

I'm not well versed on monkey sizes, so I asked what medium looked like in monkey. What I didn't know then, is it's apparently roughly equivalent to a medium in porcupine.

A photo of a capuchin monkey was shared as an example of what had been reportedly seen.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife warden for the area was called in to use his special training and carefully honed monkey-finding skills.

That apparently resulted in a BOLOFM being issued, which, if you aren't up on your police lingo, stands for Be On the Lookout For a Monkey.

An email made its way around to some neighborhood watch groups. Email boxes exploded with concern and reports of odd bird feeder incidents with strange tracks in the snow.

The head of one of those groups, Jim Salsgiver, which may or may not be his real name, said people were very concerned about this poor monkey.

His first email began with the line, "Believe it or not, this is not a joke."

I'm still not sure, though.

Most people were concerned about the monkey's ability to deal with the Vermont winter. Heck, there are thousands of seventh-generation Vermonters who can't deal with these winters, so what's a flatlander monkey to do?

But, like all good monkey stories, this one eventually came to an end.

Fortunately, it didn't involve a sad end for a monkey.

Apparently, with little more to go on, the game warden put his woods skills to work and tracked the monkey from where it crossed the road, through the woods, to a building. And there under the deck, tucked up next to the foundation, a porcupine was curled up.

While some people were undeniably disappointed not to have a herd of wild monkeys roaming the forest, most were happy to have closure on the great monkey caper of 2019.

Now, the residents of Dorset can eagerly await warmer temperatures knowing their bird feeders are safe. At least until the bears awake from their slumber.

Darren Marcy is the editor of the Manchester Journal. He can be reached by email at dmarcy@manchesterjournal.com or by cell at 802-681-6534.


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