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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bigfoot? Or Richard Nixon?

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA, Nov. 10, 2007.)
What would a teenage Bigfoot be doing
cavorting with a couple of bear cubs?
The answer is obvious.
Yup, it’s weird. The idea that “Bigfoot” is alive and well in the Allegheny National Forest has been gaining credibility, thanks to a photograph from a hunter’s trail camera.

Part of me wants to believe it. Confirming the existence of a large primate in our local area would be very cool indeed. It could give our economy a huge boost. But part of me thinks it’s kooky.

The photograph exists. And lots of amateur cryptozoologists think the camera has captured a photo of a real live Bigfoot. What’s a “cryptozoologist”? The word comes from the word “crypto” -- which means “hidden” (as in the word “cryptic”), and “zoologist,” a person who studies animals.

The trail camera, triggered by movement in its field of view, actually took a sequence of at least three photos somewhere in the general vicinity of Ridgway, PA on the night of September 16, 2007. The three photographs are time-stamped: 20:04:23, 20:32:05, and 20:32:41. That means more than 27 minutes elapsed between the first and second, and only 36 seconds between the second and third.

That raises a number of questions. Why the significant time period between the first and second photographs? Are there other photographs in that 27-minute gap that were not made public? Do those photographs offer any clarification? Or is that time period as empty as the 18-minute gap in the famed Watergate tape?

The first photograph clearly shows two bear cubs. One is in front of a tree where the alleged Bigfoot shows up in the second and third photos. The second and third photos show “Bigfoot” in front of the tree and a black form, presumably one of the cubs, at a mineral block positioned to attract deer to the camera. “Bigfoot” is in a bit of a contorted posture in the third photo, which adds to the mystery.

With the presence of two black bear cubs, I have to ask, “Where’s Momma?” Why would a Bigfoot be in the same photo as a bear cub, without the mother bear being troubled about it? And why would the bear cubs not seem in any hurry to leave? Why didn’t they at least climb a tree?

Some have suggested that this is a juvenile Bigfoot. What would a teenage Bigfoot be doing cavorting with a couple of bear cubs? The answer is obvious. Based on the evidence I see, here’s my theory:

The photographs show a teenage Bigfoot hired to baby-sit a couple of bear cubs while Momma is out carousing, probably dumpster diving on Boot Jack Hill just south of Ridgway. Why is the Bigfoot in a contorted posture? It’s a good babysitter -- it’s probably trying to engage the little ones in a game. I think they're playing "Twister". I’m surprised no one has figured this out!

Seriously, I’m no cryptozoologist, not even an amateur one, but I doubt that Bigfoot exists -- especially in the Allegheny National Forest. I say the animal in question is the mother bear. I’d like it to be Bigfoot, but there’s probably just as much chance that a remnant colony of Seneca Indians is living in a longhouse in some remote part of the Allegheny National Forest.

Why not go with the simplest explanation, the one that seems most likely, based on whatever scant evidence there is?

If I was the hunter who owns the photos, and I really believed it was Bigfoot, I’d get a team of scientists to scour that spot for tracks, hair, droppings -- any material bearing DNA evidence. And I’d go beyond the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Society. (Yes, that actually exists.) I’d get the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization to ante up the money to do DNA analysis. That’s what they’re about.

I’m not mocking Bigfoot believers. My questions are legitimate. I hope Bigfoot exists. Rumors have abounded for centuries, and the natural world has many undiscovered secrets.

I’m only wondering why Bigfoot, if he exists in Pennsylvania, has never left any clear tracks, has never been hit by a car, has never been shot by a hunter in mistake for a bear, has never shown up in a clear photograph, or has never made a conclusive appearance outside the pages of a supermarket tabloid.

If I’m wrong, then maybe Richard Nixon had something to do with that 27-minute gap.


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