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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bigfoot, the BFRO, Finding Bigfoot, and a look at the evidence.

 Hey kiddos, the Skeptical Okie is back with what I hope is a decent post.  Finally starting to settle back into a regular work schedule, so hopefully I'll be able to start putting these out in a more timely manner.  I noticed that I tend to average about 2 posts a month, and hopefully I'll be able to get up to at least one a week.  And as I am at nearly 1500 views on the blog, I think it is time to celebrate.  So time to do a topic that I have always been fascinated and entertained by.   But first, just so you know, one of the reasons that it does take so long in between posts is mostly due to research, and the nausea and headaches that go along with it when you read some of the things that are involved with these topics.  I hope that you folks are enjoying my little attempts to promote rational thought in the general community.  If you do, or if you have suggestions for improvements, let me know in the comments section, or contact me at skepticalokie@gmail.com .

This week, I'll be revisiting my discussion of the Bigfoot community, Bigfoot in general, and the show "Finding Bigfoot".  I will admit my previous post was rather sub-par  but I do have a defense, namely physical pain combined with minor case of insomnia.  But I feel that I owe it to anyone that enjoys the blog to  make the article as thorough and enjoyable as I can. The other reason I am re-visiting this topic is that the "Finding Bigfoot" crew was only a few miles from my house doing an investigation ( and yes, I do use the term loosely) in a place that I know very well.  No, I didn't interfere with them, though it would have been tempting to do so.  It is a longer than usual article, so I would suggest not trying to read it at work or while watching small children.  I would also recommend having food and water nearby.

Before I really jump into the topic, let me just say that while I find it highly improbable that Bigfoot does exist, I am open to the possibility   If someone actually produces a body or living creature, then I'll be there saying "Damn, they're real."  Given the fact that you can not disprove a negative, then it will remain an open debate until either one walks into a Starbucks and orders a half caff double hazelnut espresso, or until there are no hiding places on the continent, whichever comes first.

Some of you may be saying "How is this guy any different from all the other skeptics out there that have given lectures and written books about Bigfoot and other mysterious monsters?"  The major way I differ from many of the others that discuss unknown creatures in forums such as this, is that  I have spent a large part of my life in the woods and countryside stalking everything from small birds and herbivorous mammals to the large predators.  I have tracked wolves and coyotes through mud, snow, grass, open fields, and woodland. I have tracked animals from kill sites back to their hiding areas or dens.  In my current occupations, I have had to determine what animal has made what track, what occurred  and deduce why.  I have even had to track emus that had been running loose long enough to have raised a clutch of chicks.(Not a fun day.)  I have also had to investigate a Bigfoot running through a trailer park. (It was actually a large naked man on some illicit substance. Try seeing that and not needing brain bleach.)  I am not, and I will emphasize this several times, a wildlife biologist, ecologist, botanist  or any other "ist".  I am simply a man with well over 20 years experience tracking and finding, and identifying animals and an ability to think logically.

Big foot is...?
Sorry, wrong picture :)

From the Patterson-Gimlin film
 First off, exactly what the hell is a Bigfoot?  Basically, it is supposed to be a large, hairy, humanoid creature.  According to the BFRO website, they range from about 3 feet tall to over 10 feet.  According to ourbigfoot.com, they weigh between 600-900 pounds, which is the weights I often hear.  The hair color (and the BFRO (This group would be the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.   You can find their website at http://bfro.net/  ) emphasizes hair, not fur, due to a lack of  guard hairs) ranges in color from black to brown to gray or white.  They are also supposed to be human in appearance  with the head being proportionally smaller in size and the arms longer than they would be in a human.  They are, depending on the reports you go off of, either purely animal in intelligence or else nearly human.  They are supposed to live in forested areas, and like most animals, live near access to water and food.  Some experts (and no, I'm not using the sarcastic quote marks.  I'm afraid I'll wear the key out on my computer.) claim Bigfoot is an herbivore (plant eater).  Others claim they are either omnivores (once again on the BFRO site) or carnivores.  As far as I have been able to find, there is only 1 purely carnivorous primate, the tarsier, which is a kinda cute little guy.

Not quite a Bigfoot.

Alias's
The Bigfoot has quite a few alias's that it goes by.  Some of the ones in North America are :Sasquatch, Bigfoot, Skunk-Ape, Boggy Monster, Hairy Man, and about a hundred other names.  Part of the reason for all these names, and this is just my hypothesis, is that cryptozoologists go through the local native stories, and any that mention a wild man, or a large hairy creature get added to the plethora of names in an attempt to demonstrate that the creatures have been around for centuries, not just since the Patterson-Gimlin film.

History
The history of the Bigfoot is a little unclear. There are numerous legends from Native American tribes that describe wild men or hairy men, but they also have stories that have talking foxes, ravens, and bears.  There is some similarities to Bigfoot, but the same similarities could also be applied to other known creatures.  Some of the languages that the stories originated in are no longer spoken, so it is unknown if there may be additions or omissions made in the translation that were made to make it easier for the English speaking audience to understand.  Remember, these were oral traditions passed down from one generation to the next, so there may have been additions made with every telling, similar to the game "telephone".   According to monstrous.com , one of the earliest reported sightings of Bigfoot was in 986 C.E. by Lief Erikson (yes, the Viking) and the first printed was in a California newspaper in 1870.  According to Wikipedia, in the 1920's, a Canadian newspaperman named J.W. Burns compiled a bunch of legends from the local native tribes that described what he believed was a single type of animal.  He was also the one that coined the phrase Sasquatch.  There have been reported sightings of Bigfoot over the years, starting in the early 1920's.  And yes, to the international readers, I know I'm not addressing the stories of the Yeti or other humanoid creatures in other countries.  Mostly due to the fact that I am trying to keep my posts on a more singular topic and if I were to discuss all the humanoid stories, it would be too long to read comfortably in a single sitting.  Back to the matter at hand.  In 1924, there was a reported Bigfoot attack on a mining camp in Washington state at a place called Ape Canyon.  The sightings were few and far between until about 1958 at Bluff Creek, California.  The gist of the story is that they were building a road through the area, and they discovered some large foot prints.  The story grew from there and began the entire cottage industry of "Bigfooting"  In fact, this incident is the one that gave the creature the name Bigfoot. One problem with this episode is that the crew chief, Ray Wallace, was known to play practical jokes, and after his death in 2002, his family produced a pair of wooden "stompers" that may have been used to create the tracks.  These are essentially large wooden bottom shoes with a mold of a footprint on the bottom, instead of shoe treads.  I say may have, because unless the the person actually comes forward and admits and demonstrates that they did do it, then it is all supposition.  (While doing the research for this piece of information, I ran into a very interesting problem.  The pro-Bigfoot sites state that the stompers couldn't make the tracks and that the family is trying to discredit Mr. Wallace and even offer their own proof as to why.  Cryptomundo claims to have a letter from the nephew of someone that was involved in the case, and that they had info that the public hadn't read.   I did look through Cryptomundo for research.  I think I should get some kind of award for that alone.  The sites that mention this fact that are not crypto sites, simply mention it, state it appears it was a hoax, and that's the end of it.) After the Bluff Creek incident, there are a few quiet years and then it happened.  Yep, the Patterson-Gimlin film.  I'm not going to write much about it, mostly because there have been t.v. specials, books, and podcasts about just this topic alone.  In the off chance that you don't know what it is, I have no idea where you've been for the last 40 years.  You may not know the name of it, but odds are you've seen it.  It is a shaky 8mm film of ...something walking along a river bank.  You can watch it on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Us6jo8bl2lk .  Granted, it's a typical Youtube video, but finding a copy of the original proved to be rather problematic, with a lot of dead links, or video has been removed messages.  People have been trying to debunk it pretty much since it was first shown.  This one film has had almost as much analysis done as the J.F.K. assassination video.  Since then, the number of Bigfoot sightings have been on an increase.  I imagine that since "Finding Bigfoot" began airing, the number of sightings have increased even more.


Territory
I do have some graphics and maps, but after 2 months of digging through the interwebs, either my Google-Fu has failed me, or the map I was wanting really doesn't exist. I was able to find one that does come close, though. If you would look at the  following map,it shows the general territories of the 5 North American Bear species, The Grizzly, Brown, Black, Kodiak, and Polar, (and remember the colors given that Bigfoots come in)  as well as other bear species across the world.
 
General Bear Territory
One problem I have with the first map is that it seems to ignore some of the black bear populations in the U.S, such as those in Florida.   This territory looks like this:


Now if you would compare those maps to this:


Bigfoot Sightings




Notice a resemblance?  I'm not saying that every sighting is a mistaken bear.  But given how much overlap there is, there is a high probability that many of them are.  In fact, I did find a study that uses bear populations to predict Bigfoot sightings.  You can read the study here .  It does appear that they are hypothesizing that many of the sightings are possibly cases of mis-identification.  As I stated at the beginning, the experts state that they prefer wooded areas, with access to clean water and food.  I know that the maps do not show the exact same areas, but you do need to consider 2 facts.  The first is that I have never stated that every single sightings was actually a bear.  Some could be other people, or large mammals seen at strange angles or difficult light conditions.   Secondly, animals are mobile, they do move around, especially when looking for food, their own territory, and mates, which I know that the same argument can be made for Bigfoot.  


Diet, habits, and other info
If you've seen any show on Bigfoots, then you've have probably heard them discuss the diets or habits of the creatures.  What I want to know is, How the hell do they know this?  I can understand making assumptions on say a T. Rex, or a giant squid.  These assumptions can be based on looking at and analyzing either live specimens or their remains.  They can look at an animals teeth and reasonably come to the conclusion that it was a meat eater, plant eater, or omnivore.  Or they can compare it to similar known animals and unless there are major differences in structure, assume the diet is similar.  They can also look at it's fecal matter, known as scat, (and no I don't mean the musical style) to determine the major type of material that has been consumed.  They can watch the animal to learn their habits and nature.  I do not know the exact process that paleontologists use to determine everything about fossils, but I can assume it is relatively the same thing.  But with these animals, they at least having either living descendants or adequate fossil remains to observe.  With the Bigfoot, so far, there have been no long term or comparative observations made.  So most Bigfooters make assumptions regarding Bigfoots nature using information from witnesses.  Going off of the most common beliefs concerning Bigfoot,  they appear to mostly be omnivorous, eating everything from roots and berries to killing and eating deer.  According to Matt Moneymaker and his crew from the BFRO, coyotes and wolves are a good indicator that there are Bigfoot in the area because apparently, they all hunt the same prey animals.  (By the way, coyotes eat mice and other small animals more often than they eat large animals)  Appropriately for a cryptid, they are elusive and avoid making contact with humans, though given the number of reports, they aren't really good at hide and seek.  As I stated earlier, they appear to prefer heavily wooded areas, with access to water and hiding places.  On the show "Finding Bigfoot", they have come upon structures made out of sticks, and Bobo has often proclaimed  "A Squatch made this".  Thing is, they normally find these in areas that are known to the locals as either hunting or camping areas.  I've made several of these, which are called lean-tos or blinds, when I've been caught out close to dark and it looked like it was going to rain or when I was trying to avoid detection by the animal I was attempting to observe.  I don't always take them down when I'm done, and several weeks or even a year later when I return, they are often still intact.  I know that this section has probably been the worst, but it is also one of the hardest to research and put into a cohesive form, mostly because there are so many differing descriptions on the creatures nature and there is no hard evidence to support any of them.

Bigfoot Theories
 There are numerous theories concerning the origins of Bigfoot out there.  Some of them are pretty out there. The most commonly accepted one is that they are the descendants of an offshoot of the homo genus or they are surviving members of  gigantopithecus,  an extinct giant ape.  Another one I've seen recently is that they are either aliens, escaped alien pets, escaped alien experiments, failed alien bio-weapons, or Earth is a penal colony, and Bigfoot are the inmates. There are so many sites stating this that it would be relatively impossible to list them all.  The funniest one I've heard is that Bigfoot are aliens capable of phasing in and out of this plane of reality, and this is why we have never found a corpse.  I believe these would be cases of special pleading.  When skeptics ask a believer why haven't we ever stumbled on a dead Bigfoot, they claim a body doesn't last long in the wild or that we never find bear skeletons.  Granted, a body will either decompose or be torn apart by scavengers pretty quickly, but there will still be signs that it existed.  A small fragment of hair or bone, feces, a partial or sometimes intact skeleton.  So far, there has been no conclusive evidence of a Bigfoot in these regards.  They will also claim that Bigfoot bury their dead.  Once again, this would leave obvious signs.  Even if they buried them under a stone cairn, the odor of decomposition would be evident, let alone the obvious signs of stones being gathered and stacked.  A grave site is normally fairly obvious, especially one out in the middle of the woods.  If the creatures have an animal intelligence, why would they bother to bury their dead?  If they have near human intelligence, where are the signs of burial?  We can still find evidence of burial sites for the native tribes in America from hundreds of years ago.

How many would it take?
A common question that the skeptics ask the believers is "How many Bigfoot are there?"  In order to maintain a healthy population, without having to resort to inbreeding, and given the wide territory that that are supposed to cover, there would, by necessity, have to be a large number of the creatures roaming all over the country.  According to the BFRO website, their estimates are between 2000-6000 creatures, and they claim this is above the minimum threshold.  The minimum viable population threshold is the point of no return for a species.  According to Wikipedia, if you ignore inbreeding problems, then 500-1000 animals would ensure their survival.  If you take into account the problems associated with inbreeding (and please, no redneck jokes, I'll make those) then the numbers dramatically increase.  According to the same article the median population size would be 4, 169, with no conservation efforts.  And remember, these animals would need to be in relatively close proximity to each other in order to maintain a breeding relationship.  Now, given the number of sightings every year, the wide spread locations, and the numbers needed, if they do exist, then they are either highly migratory, almost nomadic, or highly inbred, if there are not a large number of the creatures.  A major issue with a highly inbred population is that any genetic problems will be amplified because they will not be bred out of the species.  Believers will often cite the rarity of Bigfoot for the reason they haven't been spotted more often by the general public.  The thing is, there are numerous animals with incredibly small populations that we are still able to find on a regular basis.  Aniamlinfo.org has a list of about 36 mammals that have fewer than 1000 individuals remaining.  Some of them are fairly small in dense forest, while others live in aquatic environments.  in both cases, they are difficult to find, but researchers are still able to observe and study them.  Their list is:





  • Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin)(*P)- ... maybe no more than a few tens of individuals...(Reeves et al. 2003)
  • Vancouver Island Marmot(*P)- ...29...(Vanc. Is. Marm. Recov. Found.2005) 
  • Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat(*P)- ...50 - 100 individuals...(IUCN 2004)
  • Javan Rhino(*P)- ...about 60...(Intl. Rhino Found. 2005)
  • Hispid Hare (Assam Rabbit)(*P)- ...110...(Kavitha 2001)
  • Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat(*P)- ...113...(Queensland Parks Wildl. Serv. 2003)  
  • Tamaraw (Dwarf Water Buffalo)(*P)- ...the total population is thought to be about 30 - 200...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Iberian Lynx(*P)- ...As few as 120...(FFI Update 2006) 
  • Red Wolf(*P)- ...less than 150 (re-introduced) ...(IUCN 2004)
  • Dwarf Blue Sheep(*P)- ...approximately 200...(Wang et al. 2000)
  • Yellow-tailed Woolly Monkey(*P)- ...fewer than 250 individuals...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Kouprey (Cambodian Forest Ox)(*P)- ...generally assumed to be less than 250...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Riverine Rabbit(*P)- ...About 250 adults...(Flux 2005)
  • Malabar Large Spotted Civet(*P)- ...fewer than 250 mature individuals are thought to survive...(Nowak 1999)
  • Saola (Vu Quang Ox)(*P)- ...estimated at less than 250 mature individuals...(IUCN 2006) 
  • Tonkin Snub-nosed Monkey(*P)- ...less than 300...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Sumatran Rhino(*P)- ...about 300...(Intl. Rhino Found. 2005)
  • Northern Muriqui- ...less than 300...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Visayan Spotted Deer(*P)- ...a few hundred...(Heaney and Regalado 1998)
  • Hirola (Hunter's Hartebeest)(*P)- ...by 1995 numbers were down to 300...(Kingdon 1997)
  • Addax(*P)- ...may not exceed a few hundred individuals...(Mallon & Kingswood 2001)
  • North Atlantic Right Whale(*P)- ...around 350...(Focus 2004a)  
  • Black-faced Lion Tamarin(*P)- ...as few as 400...(Natl. Zoo Cons. Sci. 2004)
  • Ethiopian Wolf(*P)- ...at least 442...(Sillero-Zubiri & Marino 2004)  
  • Black-footed Ferret(*P)- ...about 500 in the wild...(Focus 2005a) 
  • African Wild Ass(*P)- ...less than 570...(Moehlman 2002a)
  • Vaquita(*P)- ...less than 600...(Oryx 2004d) 
  • Arabian Oryx(*P)- ...Approximately 886 (re-introduced)...(IUCN 2004) 
  • Mediterranean Monk Seal(*P)- ...an estimated 500 individuals...(Karamanlidis et al. 2004)
  • Bactrian Camel(*P)- ...approximately 950...(IUCN 2003a)  
  • Hairy-eared Dwarf Lemur(*P)- ...estimated to number between 100 - 1000...(IUCN 2002)
  • Southern Muriqui (Woolly Spider Monkey)(*P)- ...does not exceed 1000...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Golden Bamboo Lemur(*P)- ...about 1000 individuals...(IUCN 2002)
  • Golden-rumped Lion Tamarin(*P)- ...1000...(Natl. Zoo Cons. Sci. 2004)
  • Greater Bamboo Lemur(*P)- ...1000 individuals...(IUCN 2003a)
  • Indus River Dolphin(*P)- ...At least 1000...(Focus/WWF 2001)


  • Read more:http://www.animalinfo.org/rarest.htm#ixzz2K1t9WxI2

    And this brings to mind a question that I have never heard put to the believers.  How is it no Bigfoot has ever been seen fleeing from a wildfire or been found in the aftermath?  How come they don't start appearing during a drought?  We have film of animals running from a forest during fires, and we find their bodies in the burnt out sections.  During the drought here in Oklahoma, people were surprised to see large numbers of black bears suddenly start showing up everywhere looking for water.  Severe ecological disasters normally cause animals to come out of hiding out of desperation to survive.  Yet during all the California wildfires, no known Bigfoot remains have been found, and no Bigfoot has walked into someones backyard to drink from their swimming pool.

    Bigfoot Hoaxes
    This is a rather confusing part of the Bigfoot story.  Depending on how you look at it, every sighting could be a hoax.  The ones that the Bigfoot community view as hoaxes are the one perpetuated against them.  There have been several notorious ones that come to mind in recent years.  The first is from August 2008 in Georgia.  This is the one where a couple of men had basically a frozen rubber ape suit in an ice chest, claiming it was real.  You can find this one everywhere.  Just Google frozen Bigfoot.  A tragic case is the man in Montana 4 years later in August 2012 that was wearing a ghillie suit trying to prank people.  Unfortunately, he was killed during this prank after being hit by 2 cars.  And the last one that immediately comes to mind can be viewed here.  This was done by Penn and Teller, kind of as a jab at Matt Moneymaker and the BFRO.

    Tracks
    If you've been a believer, or in the skeptical community, or even watched enough television, you seen someone holding up a plaster cast of a footprint.  A question that I've often had is, why is there normally only one or two prints, even along a river bed.  Also, how is it a track that is supposed to be several days old can leave a very distinct cast, complete with toe prints and lines, while one that is supposed to be relatively fresh will look like a clump of nothing.  How do they know it's not just a natural depression or a human walking barefoot through the woods on a nature hike?  I've done it quite often.  Tracks will be sharp and crisp for a short while if the conditions are right.  However, they quickly erode, loosing their features until they are indistinguishable from the rest of the terrain. Wind, rain, snow, other animals, even leaves moving across the surface will accelerate the process.

    D.N.A. evidence
    This has recently been in the news, and also n the "Finding  Bigfoot" show.  Today, on February 4th, 2012,  I found an article that they had tested a D.N.A. sample taken in Russia that turned out to belong to a North American Black Bear.  You can read the article here.  Then there is Dr. Melba Ketchum.  She claims to have sequenced Bigfoot D.N.A. from samples sent to her.  The article from Sci-tech Today can be found here.  There are a few issues with her claim.  I want to see how many you can find.  Leave your answers in the comments section, and we'll discuss them in a later article.  For a hint, listen to the Monster Talk Podcast "Ketchum if you can"

    Other possibilities for the evidence
    Some of the other evidence that has been presented are hair and blood samples, which fall under the D.N.A. category, but I thought I would take a minute and deliver some possible alternative ideas as to the origins.  There was one man that had set a board with nails on his cabins porch to deter anyone from ransacking the place.  When he returned to prep the cabin for use, he found hair, and I believe a bit of flesh attached to the board and nails.  Unfortunately, due to it being out in the weather for several months, the D.N.A. had been broken down to the point that it could no longer be tested.  The show made it sound like Bigfoot was there, but using Occams Razor, the most likely circumstance is that a bear walked up on the porch and stepped on the nails. Lately the BFRO folks have been presenting hair as proof.  they do this after a cursory visual inspection.  Once again, using Occams razor, which is more likely, a possibly mythical creature leaving a piece of hair behind, or a bear, bovine, or even a wild pig leaving hair behind.  For those that are unfamiliar with it, Occams Razor is a logic exercise that basically states when there are several competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.  It doesn't always work, but it is a good rule of thumb.

    "Finding Bigfoot" and the BFRO
    O.k., now for the cream of the crop in the Bigfoot movement, the BFRO (Bigfoot Field Research Organization) and the show "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet.  The BFRO is a non-profit organization founded in 1995 by a man named Matt Moneymaker that claims to use scientific methods to investigate Bigfoot reports.  (If you were going to run a non-profit, wouldn't you change your name from Moneymaker to something else?)  This is a group of believers that go out to investigate reported sightings of an unknown animal with the intention to prove that Bigfoot exists.  This is so horribly wrong when doing research in a scientific manner.  When doing scientific research, you don't go with the intention of definitively proving something exists.  The intention of research is to see if something does or doesn't exist.  Basically, you use science to answer a question, not reinforce your beliefs.  This means you shouldn't let any bias that you have influence the way you conduct your research.  Your results are your results, regardless of if they are the ones that you hoped they would be or not.  Granted, all people have a bias, but the scientific method, when properly applied, is designed to reduce the effect of these preconceived notions.  The show "Finding Bigfoot"  has a main cast of 4 people.  First and foremost is Matt Moneymaker, founder of the BFRO.  Second is James "Bobo" Fay, who seems to be a small, shaved Bigfoot himself.  His normal line is "If I like it, a Squatch will like it too."  He's also the only one that goes by a nickname.  Third is Cliff Barackman, the small guy with the goatee.  That's about all I have on him.   Finally, the token "skeptic" Ranae Holland, who is a research biologist.   

    Matt Moneymaker                     James "Bobo " Fay                       Cliff Barackman                      Ranae Holland
    In the show, these Bigfoot hunters go to various towns, talk to people that believe they have seen a Bigfoot, or had an experience with a creature they couldn't identify,  pick several of them for further investigation, go to the sighting location, attempt to recreate it, one of them camps out and looks for the creature either overnight or for several days, and they do a group overnight investigation, all the while showing their bias that Bigfoots exist.  O.K., let's break this down.  Step 1, Talk to witnesses.  This is fine.  You need information to begin your research, so find it.  Step 2, Pick witnesses to further investigate.  Somewhat correct but the way they choose the one to is slightly skewed.  Yes, you need to use the best evidence available, but to only use the ones that fit with an already formed hypothesis is called cherry-picking data.  Basically they are finding the information that fits their preconceived notions the best instead of looking at all the data.  They need to look at cases that have other possible explanations, which most do.  Step 3 Go to the location.  This one is rather hit and miss.  I've seen several times when Ranae and Matt have had very different opinions concerning the "evidence" and eventually Matt will tell Ranae that she has no idea what she's looking at, especially concerning tracks.  To be honest, I don't see it either, but given that I'm watching it on a television instead of actually being there, I can not make a definitive conclusion.  Step 4, Recreate the incident.  I'm actually fine with this.  This can give the investigators a better idea of what the witness might have seen.  The main problem I have is that someone invariably states something along the lines of  "You definitely saw a Bigfoot.  It can't be anything else."  Rarely is another hypothesis given.  But sometimes watching them do this is funny as hell.  Bobo normally plays the role of Bigfoot, mostly because he's the largest member of the quartet.  A problem with this is that witnesses are notoriously unreliable.  When someone is scared or caught off guard, what they think they see and what is actually there may be two different things.  Step 5, While further interviewing witnesses, 1 person camps out looking.  This one is borderline proper.  Yes, they are actually looking for evidence, but once again with the bias that the creature exists.  Lastly, they do a group investigation in a predetermined area that they feel will give them the best results.  In and of itself, this is fine.  The problem is their methodology, which deserves it's own section.  

    "Finding Bigfoot" methodology
    I will admit to watching the show on occasion.  Most of the time, it's just for background noise, and sometimes I use it as my own version of MST3K.  I do end up yelling at the screen an awful lot though.  What I'm going to discuss in this section is the methods used on the show "Finding Bigfoot" during their night investigations and explain how they might or might not work.
    Animal calls:  Each member of the team has various calls and screams that they do in order to either attract a Bigfoot, or to solicit a response.  Yes, this is used to attract animals such as deer and coyotes.  With the deer, you use a deer call, with predators, you use the call of a wounded prey animal.  The problem with using this method is, no one knows what a Bigfoot sounds like, or what their food sounds like.
    Damsel in distress:  Ranae goes out into the woods and pretends to be in trouble.  The theory is that a Bigfoot will be curious about a human female by herself, and will come and investigate.  The problem is that they are assuming the creature has either near human intelligence, or a poor survival instinct.  Or needs a date.
    Recorded children's voices: Once again, they make an assumption that the creature will be curious about humans and come and investigate.  Same problems as the damsel in distress.
    Sound Blasting:  This is where they take a high powered stereo and play various animal calls at a high volume.  The problem with this is that extremely loud sounds will normally drive any fauna in the immediate area away or into hiding.  Even large predators like cougars and wolves will flee from a loud sudden sound. 
    The Rave:  Exactly what it sounds like, a disco ball and loud music.  The problem is the same as sound blasting, and they seem to be making the assumption that Bigfoot are stoners.
    Loud campers:  A large group of people around a campfire, singing, playing music, joking and laughing.  The problems with this are that most wild animals will avoid a fire at all costs, unless they are nearly dieing of hunger and loud noises will drive them away.
    Running with torches while yelling: Yep, they go running through a forest at night with lit torches (and to the British readers, I don't mean an electric torch) yelling at the top of their lungs.  Once again, animals avoid fire and loud noises.  And forests are flammable.
    Children for bait:  They had a small troop of Girl Scouts out in the woods at night around a campfire.  the idea once again is that the creature would be curious about small kids, and I guess they combined it with the damsel in distress  method and childrens voices.  Again, fire = bad to animals, and loud noises aren't popular in the animal kingdom.
    Roman candles:  Bobo shot off some roman candle fireworks to attract a Bigfoot.  And again, loud noises, fire and animals don't mix.  And trees are flammable.  (Does the forest service need to put warning labels on all the trees?)
    Rabbit and glow sticks:  A rabbit in a cage surrounded by glow sticks.  I don't really have the foggiest what the hell they were thinking on this one.  Weird enough to work?  The problem is that while animals will investigate things that are out of the ordinary, they will do so at a distance, and be very alert to anything that might be a threat.
    Fireworks: Bobo sets off a bunch of black cat fireworks.  Urg.... everything is wrong on this one.  I'm beginning to thing he might just be a pyromaniac.  Or else just enjoys explosions.  But then again,who doesn't enjoy a nice evening in the great outdoors, trying to set it all ablaze?
    Normal Method:  Their preferred method of trying to find a Bigfoot is to split up into 2 groups, and travel in opposite directions.  They are wearing what looks like starlight cameras on large rigs attached to their bodies.  They also use infrared cameras, which are difficult to determine an exact species with.  All you can see are large blobs of various colors, based on body heat.  They also use 2 way radios for communication.  A major problem, at least the way the show portrays it, is that they spend a lot of time stomping through the area, and chatting back and forth on the radios.  They also do their calls and what they call wood knock.  They believe that Bigfoot communicate in part by hitting a tree with a branch, so they do the same to elicit a response.  I think this is just a way for them to work out some aggression.
    They've tried a couple of other things, but I think you've got the general idea of what they do and how they think. 
    Animal watcher: This is not a method I've seen them use on "Finding Bigfoot", but instead, it is the method I use, and most wildlife biologists that I know use.  First, gather your evidence and talk to witnesses.  Use this and environmental factors such as availability of food, water, and shelter to determine where the animal is likely to appear or travel.  Look for animal trails, which are normally used by several species. Then determine if any of the tracks belong to the species you are trying to observe.  Find an area that you can observe the site from without being seen, including putting up a blind, or even using a tree stand.  Anything to remove yourself from the animals line of sight.  Then you wait. And wait.  And sometimes wait some more.  It can take days or weeks of observation to finally see the animal.  Then you can take your notes, attempt to capture, or even take samples.

    The End???
    I know that the show is edited to make it fit into the time slot and to make it as entertaining as possible.  I also know that there are people out there that are looking for these creatures, and disprove their own ideas about its existence, but rarely do they make it on t.v.  It's not as entertaining for someone to do the actual research and at the end of the show say "Well, after all of our observations and tests were made, we have come to the conclusion that the animal Mr. and Mrs X saw ransacking their house last April has in fact turned out to be a small Grizzly Bear."  (Or maybe Bear Grylls?)  To me, the evidence for a large, hairy humanoid creature is pretty thin, unless you count some people I know.   As Carl Sagan stated "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".  Aside from some poorly shot pictures, some very shaky films, badly cast or questionable prints, and uncertain testimonies, there is little real evidence for such a creature alive today.  Given the number of animals needed to maintain a healthy breeding population, or even to maintain their numbers, the number of nature lovers, campers, and hikers, and the number of people with decent cameras in their phones, someone should have gotten a very clear picture, or even film, of one.  Take into account the number of people that hunt, or carry a firearm for protection and someone should have shot one by now, especially in Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana   Also, with the loss of available habitat, and encroachment by humans into the wilder parts of the country, someone should have found one, or at least the corpse of one that doesn't have a "Made in China" tag in it.  I think it would be amazing if one were to actually turn up, but I'm not going to buying tickets to see one at a zoo any time soon.

    I hope that you enjoyed the article as much as I enjoyed the research and writing of it.  Remember, you can leave a comment here on the blog, or email me at skepticalokie@gmail.com .  You can also find me on FaceBook at the Oklahoma Skeptics Society page.  I do try and post there as often as I can, so like us, and I'll keep you informed on all the goings on.  Now that the shameless plugs are out of the way, if you have any suggestions for future topics, or questions feel free to get in touch with me.  Thanks for reading, and remember, Be good, Be skeptical, and Be yourself.

    The Skeptical Okie



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