O'HARE — Employees and a golfer at a Northwest Side golf course made a gruesome discovery Monday morning: the body of a goat with its head apparently cut clean off.
Police called the goat's head an "intimidating package," which was sent anonymously as the city and the Cubs were in the middle of a multimillion dollar deal to renovate Wrigley and develop the neighborhood.
"We came across a body with the goat's head cut off," said Ryan Gilmore, the golf course's superintendent. "It was clean cut."
Gilmore said two of the goat's feet were bound in the front, and two in the back.
Golf course General Manager Michael Hainline said he was in the golf shop when a golfer came in after playing the 18th hole and told them about the grisly sight along a gravel maintenance path.
"We went to take a look, and then we called police," Hainline said.
They also found the body of a plucked chicken not far from the goat with a trail of feathers leading to it when the superintendent's dog, Bandit, began nosing around the area, Gilmore and Hainline said. At first, Hainline thought the dog might have come across the rest of the goat, but no head was found.
"It was a shock," said Hainline, who has worked at golf courses for 30 years but just started at Indian Boundary two weeks ago. "I've never seen anything like this."
Cook County Forest Preserve Police spokeswoman Karen Vaughan said the discovery marked the third time a dead goat has been found on forest preserve property on the Northwest Side in the last year.
However, "this is the first headless one that we've found," Vaughan said.
It was unclear whether the goat body found at the course was connected to the goat head sent to Ricketts.
Hainline said he and other maintenance workers began joking about the goat's possible Wrigley connection when someone reminded them about the head that had been sent to the ballpark.
"I think it's a reach," Hainline said.
Golfers taking advantage of Tuesday's sunny but brisk spring weather said they hadn't heard about the discovery.
"It is a gruesome thing," said Jerry Smith, who was golfing with a friend at the Northwest Side golf course for the first time.
Patrick Travis, of Des Plaines, said he golfs once a week at the course and wouldn't let the macabre find scare him away.
"Nothing surprises me these days," Travis said.
Gilmore said that while he grew up on a farm and has seen dead animals, he's never seen one like this before. It didn't look like something a coyote or another animal could have done, Gilmore said.
Seeing the goat "was definitely surprising," and everyone who got a glimpse was "pretty shocked," Gilmore said. And of course, everyone had to take a look, he said.
The Cubs have been linked to goats since 1945, when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis allegedly cursed the team after fans complained about a goat he brought into the stadium. As legend goes, "The Billy Goat Curse" is blamed for the Cubs' longtime failure to win the World Series.
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the team's day-to-day operations.