Without a doubt Bigfoot is big business now, with lots of researchers from all walks of life wanting to be taken seriously – forensic scientists, paleontologists, primatologists, wildlife specialists, biologists, Federal and State government entities, etc. With an almost overwhelming wealth of opinions and attitudes comes the larger question of why government groups can’t seem to publicly admit we’re now dealing with an actual unidentified species. But these opinions have evolved in many sectors into more ideas about how to treat these beings, that the evidence to date is that we’re probably dealing with a new creature, one who is not simian or human but with a lot of similarities – a totally different species. Why can’t they admit at least this much?
What’s unique about this new science is that it’s built on experiences and discoveries, with a small amount of forensic proof – anecdotal evidence and discovery of footprints, hair and blood samples, and possible habitat sites. Accompanying this evidence are theories about language, species survival, communication skills, communal groups, and families of creatures. All of these elements are the beginnings of Bigfoot research, true scientific research that’s trying so hard to earn legitimacy. They’re not paranormal effects – these are actual physical creatures of some type, creatures that exhibit both animal and humanoid characteristics.
The latest twist in this field is that big game hunters posing as field researchers have made it clear that they have no qualms about shooting one of these creatures. Their position – since it’s so difficult to catch one or even get close, why not just aim and fire. They simply want the glory that could go with bagging such a trophy. For anyone dedicated to finding the truth about this species and protecting it, this feels like a bad episode of the Twilight Zone. There’s already a long history of reports of these creatures being shot or shot at. But these new players are trying to re-define everything about finding Bigfoot by obviously having no respect for a creature than is very humanoid in many aspects. They’re treating them like wild animals that must be destroyed. Their intentions evoke a lot of moral and ethical questions about the nature of their alleged “research” methods. They don’t need to kill such a creature for food to survive, so it’s strictly for bragging rights. This is not an NRA issue. This could be compared to dropping depth charges in Loch Ness to see if Nessie floats up. No wonder the big guys are throwing rocks at us humans when we get too close!
Does any common sense exist in these people? Unless you’re hunting for wildlife during a sanctioned hunting season for that specific creature, theoretically the only time you should fire at any wild animal should be for self-preservation in a real life-threatening situation, not just because you want specifically to take down a Bigfoot/sasquatch/yeti, whatever you want to call it. Historically, regarding Bigfoot encounters, the odds are in your favor you won’t get attacked. As with any questionably karmic situation, the worst-case scenario might be a 9-foot tall, hairy, stinky, bipolar/schizo biped creature who hates everyone and you’re catching him in the wrong mood, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The odds of a positive outcome are probably in your favor, so why would you even think about making a pre-emptive strike.
Enter the legal pundits into these discussions. No doubt attitudes are beginning to change but not fast enough. Plus, consider the position about it being illegal in many states to purposely hunt any animal that is not named in a specifically dated hunting season, like deer and ducks. Federal lands are usually an exception, anyway, unless you have specific written permission from the Fed to hunt this creature. So now the big question is why can’t all these educated minds unify and agree on a single-minded goal of accepting this species and protecting it?
In the meantime, there are a couple of laws on the books now that recognize the reality of the situation:
Skamania AND WHATCOM CountIES, Washington STATE
Skamania County passed an ordinance against killing Sasquatch in 1969. Whatcom County also passed a resolution against killing Sasquatch in 1992 (resolution declaring Whatcom County a “Sasquatch Refuge and Protection Area”, http://www.omg-facts.com/view/Facts/30312). Why? In addition to the fact that Sasquatch, if it really exists, would be an endangered species, there are also public safety considerations. People can easily be confused for the legendary creature from a distance, so letting bigfoot-hunters run around your neighborhood would hardly be a good idea.
Though widely reported as fact that a British Columbia law now protects Bigfoot, the whole issue has been sidelined. In 2007 MP Mike Lake initially petitioned to include protection for Bigfoot under the Species At Risk Act. The matter was later tabled at Mr. Lake’s request.:
“They responded by giving us the name of a department and a list of scientists employed by the Canadian government that decides whether a species becomes a protected one. This department said, “Show us a body and we will give you your species protection”. Not hair, blood or feces, or even a finger or leg, but a fully intact and recently deceased body.”
This petition remains in limbo, because again the focal point is proof.
While scientists continue to work on proving their existence, we have to really get down to bigger moral issues here – what hunters, or anyone with a weapon, looking for these creatures should consider. The North America Bigfoot Search website addresses major key points –the core of this debate for everyone involved:
“Any competent hunter lives by a set of moral and ethical rules when they are in the woods. Rule number one, you don’t shoot at anything unless you are absolutely positive what you are about to kill. TBRC (Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy) wants to kill a biped and then figure out what they shot, hmm. There has never been a shred of physical evidence that there is a wild gorilla or ape living in the wilds of North America, none.
“It is illegal in many states to hunt any mammal that is not a named game species in season; how could this activity be legally or morally justified?
“Nobody can definitively state what species a bigfoot/sasquatch may be.
“It is against the law to hunt a species not named in a state-hunting guide.
If Bigfoot were human, it would be a felony to shoot or injure it.”
All debates center on what constitutes proof, and on that point there is no absolute consensus, except that these creatures are definitely not gorillas. NABS’s position is that there’s not one bit of evidence, though too many people in this field don’t agree with them. But anyone who hunts any creature for the sake of killing it, including a Bigfoot, without any moral or ethical considerations, is barbaric.
The following excerpts from a well-written article by Dan Rafter pretty well sum it up:
Protecting Bigfoot – A handful of imaginary species are protected by real laws
“Nicole Paquette, director of legal and governmental affairs with the Sacramento-based Animal Protection Institute, which is dedicated to protecting animals across the globe, says that newly discovered species — even ones as fantastical as sea monsters and skunk apes — would more than likely be protected by the Endangered Species Act. Such animals, if they’ve managed to avoid detection even with an army of hunters trying desperately to find them, would certainly exist in small numbers, she says. They would then qualify as either threatened or endangered.
“The only problem may be timing. Under normal circumstances, when a new species is discovered in the U.S., its boosters have to petition the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife to list it as protected. That process can be lengthy, and must include a public comment period. “Once listed, no one could hunt or kill these animals,” Paquette says. “But up until they are listed, essentially, that animal has no protection.”
“Christine Nolin, branch chief for endangered species conservation with Fish and Wildlife, admits that the process of declaring a species endangered is lengthy. (It’s especially laborious now, she says, with the department facing a large backlog.) But if a newly discovered creature is found to be facing an immediate threat — and surely Bigfoot would qualify — there is a provision for emergency protection. Under the rule, the agency has 240 days to finalize the creature’s inclusion in the Endangered Species Act. During that time, the animal is protected as if it were endangered.
Mr. Rafter defers to esteemed cryptozoologist Loren Coleman regarding this issue:
“Loren Coleman, a Portland, Maine, cryptozoologist — one who studies creatures that may not exist — says he has mixed feelings about the laws protecting some of the country’s legendary monsters. Too many, he says, are publicity ploys. But he recognizes that people do want to protect creatures that may exist but haven’t yet been discovered, while others want to keep hunters and poachers out of wildlife areas. Both intentions are good, Coleman says, talking quickly as he rattles off facts about a subject he’s spent the majority of his adult years studying. (His other specialty is suicides among baseball players.)
“ ‘Cryptozoology deals with monsters that have yet to be discovered,” Coleman says. “But that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. They usually just don’t exist in as fantastical a nature as people think. The gorilla, you know, isn’t a giant animal that squeezes native women to death. There are some serious individuals out there who feel that animals like Champ are really an endangered species that haven’t yet been discovered. They want to protect them, and think that the best way is to pass laws protecting them before they’re discovered. That’s usually not the way we go about it, but it does seem to be a way to offer immediate protection.’
“Coleman isn’t worried that a creature like Bigfoot would really face any serious danger if discovered. Proof of its existence would create loads of publicity, he says, and would undoubtedly spur federal and state officials to act quickly — within 24 hours, Coleman predicts — to enact protective legislation.
“The actions of an adventurer, though, out to make a name for himself? There isn’t much protection against that, even from Congress. That’s why, back in the swampy Everglades, Shealy hopes his skunk apes one day receive the same consideration as Champ, Whitey, Bigfoot, and other legendary creatures.
“He even has an idea of how simple the regulation should be: “I’d like a law passed that says if something out there looks like a man covered in hair, don’t shoot it.”
(Dan Rafter is a freelance writer living in St. Charles, Illinois. )
Not all agree with Mr. Coleman’s arguments. There are certain individuals in the Bigfoot “community” who want to get these creatures in their sites, even young ones. To date, no one has found a single corpse or even a skeleton nor gotten close enough to capture one. They feel a hard-wired imperative to shoot one or capture it in order to collect the evidence they need to prove to the world what this species actually is – or to actually be that one person who bags the ultimate trophy. Since no one has gotten close enough to interact with any of these creatures, their only option appears to be to get one by actually shooting it in cold blood. Tragically, they don’t see anything unethical or immoral about this attitude or plan.
Research organizations may agree that killing one is not the right path, but how do you stop individuals hell-bent on that trophy? How do you stop individuals who kill any large creature for sport or trophies?
Is legal protection possible, other than a few scattered laws? And the bigger question is why is it so inconceivable that the Federal Government through the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, could not take action immediately to protect this species by classifying it “endangered” until the true scientific community can conduct its work. It’s such a simple action, nothing complicated. All other species declared endangered are protected from trigger-happy hunters. Will it become necessary for organized groups interested in protecting the creatures from being shot to apply for injunctions to halt this imminent slaughter? Is it possible to get temporary protection from Fish and Wildlife as an endangered species? What will it take to create a coalition of the best scientific and legal minds to one purpose – protecting this species worldwide?
With nearly 10,000 new and different species being discovered around the world annually, most recently in Timor and Papua New Guinea (and wholly accepted in the scientific community as valid species), why is it inconceivable that the Sasquatch creatures can’t also be considered a new species? With mankind inhabiting maybe half of the planet, odds are we are just beginning to understand what else is out there. We have enough forensic evidence to confirm that these mysterious creatures are not gorillas, chimpanzees, or homosapiens and, therefore, should be considered a species that needs protection pending further investigation and confirmation. The last thing we, as the human race, should allow is the pursuit and possible extermination of one of the greatest scientific discoveries ever.
(Jill Edwards is a freelance writer living in Fayetteville, Arkansas)