Cryptid Profile: The Wisconsin Man-Bat
Wisconsin, while generally known as “the best state since 1848”, it is not often one of the first ones to come up while discussing the topic of cryptozoology. But as history points out, the badger state should not be so quickly overlooked when searching for a location with a great number of hidden beasts. Within its borders, Wisconsin holds Phantom Kangaroos, Out Of Place Alligators, Goatman, Bigfoot, Lake Monsters, Thunderbirds, Dragons, Lizardman, and Hodags, just to name a few. But one of the creatures that generally flies under the radar is a beast that was only seen one time by a father and son driving down a dark road. The creature is believed to be humanoid in shape, monstrous in appearance, and capable of flight.
Meet the Wisconsin Man-Bat.
On September 26th, 2006, around 9:30pm, a 53yr old father (who goes by his Cherokee name, Wohali) and his 25yr old son were driving over a hilled area on Briggs Road in the village of Holmen - located in La Crosse county - when their headlights illuminated a terrifying figure flying straight at their truck.
Caught off guard by the massive shape about to collide with them, the son swerved the vehicle to the side of the road in order to avoid the creature, but at the last moment, the unknown thing changed its direction and shot straight up into the night sky while shrieking loudly and disappeared from view. Almost instantaneously, a strange illness overtook both men inside the truck and they quickly opened the doors to vomit in the darkness outside.
The son, completely overtaken by the sudden illness, puked nearly seven times into the ditch and Wohali almost matched him in number. Finally, with stomachs empty and a strong desire to leave the area, the two men loaded back into their truck and quickly made their way back home, both hoping the entire way that they would soon begin to feel better, but strangely this would not happen. For the next week both father and son remained ill and each attributed their illness to the brief encounter with the unknown creature.
With the strange illness finally behind them, Wohali took to paper and wrote out his account of what had happened that night, even going as far as to draw what both he and his son saw flying at them (photo shown above). The unknown creature was described as being gray-brown in color, around 6-7ft tall, and possessing 10-12ft wide leathery bat-like wings.
The creature had arm-like appendages that attached to the wings and were topped off with long claws. Extending out from the body were two human-like legs with monstrous feet that had long claws instead of toes. Visibly pronounced and distended ribs could be seen in the chest area and a large snarling mouth filled with noticeably sharp teeth could be seen inside. The eyes appeared to glow yellow as they reflected back the light of the headlights.
Wohali stated that he does not know if the creature was already in flight when they came upon it, or if it was first down on the ground and then jumped up to rush at them in the air, but what he does know is that it was unlike anything he or his son had ever seen before. He was adamant that what they had seen was not a large bird or any other misidentified animal, he was sure that they had seen a monster.
While the sighting of the Wisconsin Man-Bat at first seems completely unbelievable, it should not be written off so quickly as other strange creature sightings have taken place in the around La Crosse as well. In 1997, a worker for the state DNR as well as a road crew in the area saw what can only be described as a flying humanoid somewhat similar to that of the Man-Bat. The witnesses claimed that they saw a man-like lizard creature that was covered in greenish brown scales - and possessing two large wings – watching them from the side of Highway 13 before taking off into the sky, flying overhead, and continuing on out of view.
Also during that same time frame, a father and son who were searching for their lost dog along the Black River near La Crosse, stumbled upon a Lizard Man who frightened them so bad that they froze in terror. The creature watched and stared at them with unbroken eye contact until they were able to safely remove themselves from the area. As of today, none of these creatures have been seen again.
Could the Man-Bat – contrary to popular belief – have been responsible for all of these weird humanoid sightings? Or could these three creatures be completely separate beings and all unique onto themselves? Anything is possible in Wisconsin. But one theory that has been raised before on what the Man-Bat actually is links directly to one of the most famous cryptids out there, Mothman.
Some researchers feel that the Man-Bat is actually within the same “family” as Mothman as both are described somewhat similar in appearance, both were encountered in rural areas, and both disappeared after a tragedy involving water happened within their respective area. As far-fetched as that theory sounds, a large number of drowning’s have happened in the rivers around La Crosse where these creatures (or creature) have been seen and one is even reported as happening relatively quickly after the sighting of Man-Bat.
Could these be more than just coincidences, is there truly a link between the Man-Bat of Wisconsin and the Mothman of West Virginia? Some say yes, others say no, but it honestly just depends on how far you want to go down this rabbit hole.
So, what is The Wisconsin Man-Bat? Is it a strange flesh and blood freak of nature, a supernatural death omen, or simply nothing more than a good story? Whatever it is, it sure fits in nicely with all the other wonderfully weird creatures already calling this great state home.
-The Pine Barrens Institute
*Image Credit: Wohali (Witness Drawing)