My parents’ house sits nestled on the edge of a 6 million acre expanse of wilderness known as Adirondack State Park in Upstate New York. Often when I visit them I find myself sitting on their back porch in the evening letting the sounds of the forest envelope me. Locusts chirp wildly in the darkness, twigs snap off in the distance, and the rustle of bushes all make me think of the stories I heard as a child about Bigfoot.
I’m not sure when Bigfoot research became synonymous with beer drinking rednecks totting shot guns and shooting everything that moves in the forest, but this stereotype may be one of the reasons why the main stream media is not very accepting of the idea. It seems people mock Bigfoot research out of ignorance, or because deep down, they are afraid of the truth. Finding out the truth would mean admitting to ourselves that we don’t know everything about this world or ours.
The first of many Bigfoot sightings began in 1811 near Jasper, Alberta, Canada by a fur trader by the name of David Thompson. He claimed to have found four-toed, strange footprints in fresh snow. In 1884, a report of Bigfoot (or Sasquatch) was found in the Daily Colonist of Victoria, British Columbia. A train crew spotted the creature along the Fraser River. Bigfoot remained merely legend, until more sightings occurred in 1924.
A man named Albert Ostman reported that he had been held captive by a Sasquatch, until he escaped a week later, according to Ourbigfoot.com. By some accounts, Bigfoot got its name from a road crew working in Northwest California in 1958. Nighttime work at the site attracted a big visitor, which the road crew nicknamed “Bigfoot” because of the big foot prints they found all over the site.
In the two decades leading up to 2007, there were over 200 reported Bigfoot sightings in Canada. During that same time period in the U.S. there were over 2944 Bigfoot sightings, almost half of them were documented in Washington, California, Oregon, Ohio and Texas. It should also be noted that the Pacific Northwest seems to be a hotbed of Bigfoot sightings. Additionally, over 65 Bigfoot sightings (Sasquatch, yeti) have been reported around the rest of the world, for lists of current sightings go to www.bfro.net.
Today researchers like wildlife biologist Dr. John A, Bindernagel, B.S.A., MS, Ph.D., and author of, The Discovery of the Sasquatch, believe that the evidence and their personal experience proves the existence of the mythical creature. “In the fall of 1988 my wife, Joan, and I were accompanying a high school teacher and a group of students on an overnight hike into the mountains of Vancouver Island. At one point, a student called our attention to a large track in a muddy section of the trail. It was shaped like that of a barefoot human and we knew what it was. We subsequently observed 5 more such tracks in another muddy section of the trail further ahead.”
“I have just completed a 7-year-long research and writing project which culminated in my second book. Consequently, I now have time to undertake field work and to follow-up recent reports such as three tracks reports supported by photographs here on Vancouver Island, BC. On other fronts, DNA evidence is reportedly being examined and the results may soon be published. Also, a colleague has obtained new film footage which may also be made available in 2011. Other investigators continue to follow up on reports and additional physical evidence that has been photographed in recent years for study.”
Dr. Bindernagel is not alone in his thinking, fellow researchers like Dr. Jeff Meldrum, author of, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science http://www.amazon.com/Sasquatch-Legend-Science-Jeff-Meldrum/dp/0765312166 also believes that the current evidence is very compelling. Dr. Meldrum did his doctoral research at SUNY, Stony Brook on terrestrial adaptations in the feet of African monkeys, with implications for the evolution of hominid bipedalism. Meldrum examined Bigfoot tracks reported in Walla Walla, Wash., by Paul Freeman.
“Witnessing very fresh tracks was certainly a compelling experience. It convinced me that there was something to all this, and I could contribute something through my perspectives on primate, especially hominid locomotion.” Another expert, Dr. Andrew J. Smith, Author of, Things That Shouldn’t Be There http://www.amazon.com/Things-That-Shouldnt-There-Anomalous/dp/1451221231, states, “I agree that there is a lot of very interesting evidence such as footprints (Jim Chilcutt has some fascinating conclusions on this), and some DNA data.”
Bindernagel has been interested in Sasquatch since 1963. He says, “In 1963, I was a 3rd year undergrad in an applied biology course. Having recently read an article about a hunter’s encounter with an “ape-man” in eastern BC, I raised the subject at the beginning of a class, asking in effect, “How do we treat a report such as this?”
“Both the professor and my classmates laughed at me, and the professor proceeded (without pause it seemed) to begin the day’s lecture. He essentially ignored the question, indicating that we had more important things to discuss.”
Dr. Bindernagel didn’t let the experience deter him from the subject, “I was unable to find any relevant information until the 1970s when I became aware of John Green’s first books on the Sasquatch. At that time I was a scientist at the Serengeti Research Institute in Tanzania working under the auspices of the United Nations. If there was any skepticism when I raised the subject in a group of international scientists, it was not apparent. In fact, each scientist proposed ideas regarding not just how to document the existence of the Sasquatch, but how they would go about studying its food habits, etc.”
Bindernagel returned to Canada from that assignment in 1975, “My family and I moved to BC, Canada’s westernmost province, so that I could begin studying the Sasquatch in that part of Canada in which they were most commonly observed and reported.” His early investigations consisted of field interviews with hunters, loggers, fishermen, etc. It didn’t take him long to learn that, although many BC outdoor workers were aware of the Sasquatch, “most would not discuss it seriously and I quickly became aware that it was a scientifically taboo subject.”
“When it became clear that my 1998 book explaining sasquatch anatomy, behavior and some aspects of ecology was being ignored by relevant scientists, I set out to understand why this was so. This exploration led me into a 7-year-long research and writing project which culminated in my second book in 2010. I concluded that in the first book I had described the anatomy and behavior of an animal not yet acknowledged as having been discovered. Therefore, I set out to show that the Sasquatch may already have been discovered, but that the discovery has not yet been acknowledged. This conclusion led to an exploration of the sources of scientific resistance of which there are many.”
Dr. Bindernagel believes that “hoaxes and hoax claims have inhibited scientists from engaging this subject. The narrow interpretation of the Sasquatch as mythical in the sense of supernatural appears to have caused anthropologists to refrain from seeking evidence for the existence of a real or extant mammal as the basis of the myth.” The discovery claim suggesting that there is an 7-foot tall, 800 pound upright-walking mammal here in North American living in our backyards has been perceived as far-fetched, and may have raised questions regarding the credibility of those who make them.
Bindernagel says, “There is an element of circularity in which the mass media, uninformed by the few scientists who have studied the evidence, treat the discovery claim as far-fetched. This affirms members of the scientific community who already view the Sasquatch as merely a cultural phenomenon, and appears to have legitimized the reluctance of relevant scientists to scrutinize (or even consider) the physical evidence.” One piece of evidence we all know is the famous, Paterson footage of Bigfoot loping through the forest. “The Patterson-Gimlin film has been “tainted” as evidence by the claims and counterclaims regarding hoaxing. The film is only one piece of evidence for the existence of the Sasquatch, but it is the tracks, when documented in photographs or as casts, that provide the most convincing physical evidence for some scientists such as me.”
“The few scientists who have undertaken serious Sasquatch research share the view that the Sasquatch will be shown to be an ‘ape,’ because of its many apelike anatomical features and elements of behavior. But other investigators interpret its humanlike foot shape and bipedal locomotion as evidence that it is more ‘human’ than ‘ape.'”
“Physical anthropologists, of course, have pretty much removed the line separating apes from humans and have placed them in the same taxonomic group. But many people are uncomfortable with this grouping and prefer to emphasize differences between the two groups rather than anatomical and behavioral similarities. So, while there are a few investigators who resist the hypothesis that the Sasquatch is an ‘ape,’ there is at least full agreement that it is an extant bipedal North American primate.”