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Life Here: Is It A Bear? Is It A Moose,? No, It’s Bigfoot!

On Thanksgiving my sisters and their husbands and I and my partner were gathered in Maine. We usually find lots to talk about, since we have a big family and like to discuss each other’s foibles, especially when the someone being discussed is not present.

Politics is another favorite topic and since the election had just happened we had plenty of material for discussion. Even so, after a few days we had run out of things to talk about, and I brought up a subject that is dear to me: Bigfoot.

Some of you may laugh when I admit this, but I sort of believe in Bigfoot. This is not a recent development. I think I have believed in Bigfoot ever since I saw the famous Patterson-Gimlin movie footage of the creature. I told my sister to look up the clip on her laptop computer. She did, and she and my sister watched it. My younger sister insisted it could be someone in a gorilla suit. I countered that the thing had breasts, and who would think to add breasts to a gorilla suit? Also, with a larger picture one is able to see back and leg muscles working on the body of the creature. I felt no one had the technology in 1967 to create such a lifelike suit.

Lest you think me credulous, I must tell you that I am right-brained to a large degree. For years I worked as a nurse and I understand the scientific method. I value the huge steps mankind has made in biology, technology, and medicine and am glad I live in this century. I do notbelieve in crystals, or faith healing.

The thing is, it seems to me there is evidence of Bigfoot.

There are the footprints, for one. They have been found and casted in numerous places, and the casts of some even show dermal ridges. These would be hard to fake, especially since the ridges are longitudinal, not horizontal, as our dermal ridges are. The footprints also show a mid-tarsal break, typical of less evolved primates who retain some of their tree-climbing ability. Some footprints even show deformities of the toes, as if they were injured at one time.

Then there are repeated sightings. Some of the people who have come forward with stories of encounters are probably seeking notoriety or basking in their moment of fame. But all of them? There are reports by many accomplished woodsmen, sober tourists, even park rangers.

Recently, a policeman in Georgia, riding with a deputy in his car, even caught video-cam footage of a bipedal figure dashing across the road in front of his cruiser. The footage itself is blurry, but their conversation is telling. Both are surprised and baffled by the sighting. The policeman hopes aloud that his video cam caught the creature. Unless they were accomplished actors, this would be hard to fake. People who’ve studied the video have calculated the speed of the animal (since they know the width of the road and the time it took for the animal to cross it) and the thing runs as fast as an Olympic sprinter.

In New England there are fewer incidents of encounters, but one recent one stands out. A man in Hubbardton, Vt., who noticed that something was raiding his apple trees, put up a trail cam to see what it was. He caught a picture of a large creature with bald patches on its back, bending over. A small hand can be seen clutching the arm of this creature, reaching around from underneath. Believers claim it is a female Bigfoot with her young. Others claim it is an owl. I have examined it carefully and I failed to see anything owl-like in the photo. My question again is; who would think to fake bald patches on a gorilla suit?

Then there are trail cam snaps from a hunter in Pennsylvania. He has three pictures of an ape-like creature bending down to smell the deer attractant he sprayed near the camera. This is clearly a primate.

There are also many audio recordings of hoots and howls that do not come from any known animal. In fact, they sound most like the noises gorillas sometimes make. Teddy Roosevelt, when he was young and traveling out West, said he heard some noises at night that he’d never heard before, when camping in an area from which the Native Americans had warned him to stay away.

My partner will probably be embarrassed at my admission of this penchant on my part, and I know most of the scientific community thinks this is a bunch of malarkey. (Interestingly, Jane Goodall has said she thinks it is possible that there is an undiscovered primate in North America.) But remember, no one believed gorillas were real till one was shot in 1902. And anthropologists now theorize that during the early part of hominid evolution there were often several hominid species alive at the same time. There was one, Gigantopithicus, which was believed to be the size of Bigfoot. In fact, genetic studies have recently shown that many modern humans have DNA from Neanderthals.

Animal Planet now has a show called Finding Bigfoot, and their team recently visited Rutland, to examine the Hubbardton photo. I haven’t seen the show, but I know it’s sure to add to the controversy.

So, as I drive to Bethel along the dirt road between Norwich and Sharon, I often glance up into the woods, ever hopeful that I will see a shaggy figure running from tree to tree, its dark fur stark against the light blanket of snow.

I don’t know how to take pictures with my cell phone, but you can bet I won’t be quiet if I catch my very own glimpse of Bigfoot.

The writer lives in Norwich.