Saturday, January 23, 2021

Hunting Bigfoot?

It's been a long time since I put up a cryptozoology post here, and this announcement from Oklahoma isn't something you see every day. Proposed legislation will create a "hunting season" for Bigfoot - or Sasquatch, or whatever term you prefer for the mysterious apelike creature that people keep spotting.

Personally I'm open-minded to the idea that something similar could exist, but there could also be more normal explanations for many of those reports. For example, if you superimpose two maps over the United States, one with the range of black bears and the other with locations of Bigfoot sightings, they line up very closely.

D.W. Lee of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center doesn’t use the name Bigfoot. He prefers “the creature.” Lee has been studying and hunting the creature for decades. "A mix between an orangutan and a human,” he said. “I’ve had 26 encounters that I can say was actually a Bigfoot.”

But when Lee heard about state Rep. Justin Humphrey’s bill to create an official Bigfoot hunting season, he was anything but thrilled. "The efforts of the people out there actually being serious about this – it really hampers us,” Lee said.

In a press release announcing the bill filing, Humphrey said his intent is to bring more tourism to the state. "Establishing an actual hunting season and issuing licenses for people who want to hunt Bigfoot will just draw more people to our already beautiful part of the state,” according to the release.

"We use science-driven research, and we don't recognize Bigfoot in the state of Oklahoma,” Micah Holmes of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation said. The wildlife department noted that the bill would create a whole new season and license – all for something they don’t believe in. “Uh, surprised we haven’t heard that proposal before,” Holmes said.

Humprey doesn’t intend for people to kill Bigfoot. Instead, his bill proposes to offer a bounty of $25,000 to anyone who captures the creature.

Now you can't cross an orangutan with a human, but it is true that literally the only animal in the fossil record that resembles a sasquatch is Gigantopithecus, a large ape that was native to parts of Asia and was more closely related to orangutans than African Great Apes. At the same time, anthropologists are convinced that it went extinct over a hundred thousand years ago and no recent remains suggest the survival of the species into modern times.

Given that and the fact that Oklahoma is not exactly a hotbed of Bigfoot activity, I doubt any of these hunters will prove successful. This article from Scientific American makes the case that if Bigfoot were a real unknown species, we should have more evidence by now than what researchers have found.

On the other hand, who knows? Weird things do happen every so often, and if against all odds somebody does capture one, I'll be very interested to see how it compares to the various sightings and folk tales that have persisted for decades.

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