So, is there or isn’t there a Sasquatch? Whether you believe or not, the riddle of Sasquatch, or Big Foot, looms large in our West Coast imaginations and draws us in like bugs to a flame. We’re voyeurs, skeptics, believers, curiosity hounds, eye witnesses…and more.
But what caught my attention recently was news of something almost as rare as the sasquatch itself: a public talk by a legitimate wildlife biologist, Dr. John Bindernagel, who is convinced that the sasquatch (with a small “s”) exists as a species on Vancouver Island and throughout North America. He’s written two books to back up his claim. Wow. I wanted to hear more from this man.
I had to find out why Bindernagel has risked his reputation and the derision of his colleagues for 40 years as he continues to systematically investigate the evidence for sasquatch, and at the same time keeps trying to get others to take him seriously. Or at least to accept the idea that careful and scientific research into the possibility of the existence of sasquatch is a credible and worthy pursuit.
After Bindernagel’s standing-room-only presentation recently in the small community of Metchosin, BC, he told me, “I’m trying to make the point that my colleagues are going to have to deal with this sooner or later, and people will ask why did the scientific community ignore or ridicule this?” So, he keeps submitting papers to journals, even though all but one of his submissions has been rejected so far. Because he “knows he’s right.”
And right now, Bindernagel says, “I think we’re quite close to the tipping point” because of the growing body of evidence. “The sasquatch has been discovered, but the discovery has not yet been acknowledged”, or “catalogued” as he puts it, and this is one of the themes of his 2010 book, “The Discovery of Sasquatch.”
Bindernagel bases his discovery claim on three types of “very convincing” evidence:
- Eyewitness descriptions and drawings which show a “remarkable consistency” in anatomical features and behaviours as described by large numbers of people. These sightings are numerous, but two of the most persuasive are the 1941 story of the young hunter in Manitoba who shot a creature (thinking it was a moose) that he described in detail as a sasquatch-like animal, but then left it in the bush because he was hunting illegally; and the 1955 sworn statement by hunter William Roe detailing his encounter with another sasquatch-like creature in Mica Mountain, British Columbia.
- Descriptions, photographs and plaster casts of sasquatch tracks. John has about a dozen casts himself, and knows of hundreds more (many collected by Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University).
- Other signs such as tree damage (tree snaps and “twist offs”).
Finally, one other encouraging recent breakthrough, in Bindernagel’s view, is his invitation from the Washington and Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society (TWS), an international professional association of wildlife biologists, to speak at their February 14, 2013 meeting in Skemania County in Washington State.
When Bindernagel first became interested in the sasquatch in 1973, and moved to Vancouver Island to be closer to his field studies, he says he “didn’t expect the resistance and ridicule” he has experienced from British Columbian scientists, partly because when he mentioned the sasquatch research to colleagues in Africa while conducting field work there for the United Nations, those scientists had accepted it as a legitimate field of study.
“Every biologist wants to describe the behaviour of a new species. Yet no one else took this on,” Bindernagel says. So he did. He says that now, after decades of research, he has “very little doubt” about the existence of the sasquatch. He also sees the urgent need of people who have seen a sasquatch to be taken seriously. At the moment, Bindernagel explains, those who see a sasquatch wind up going for therapy and “feel messed up” because they are told what they’ve seen doesn’t exist.
Now, wiser than when he began his sasquatch evidence gathering decades ago, Bindernagel understands that scientific resistance to his findings is “fairly normal” and mentions the classic case of the African gorilla, which local people had known about for long periods of time before the collection of specimens “proved” the case to outsiders.
After his Metchosin talk, where in a show of hands 20-40% of the crowd indicated they or someone they knew had seen a sasquatch, Bindernagel said at least four people came up to tell him their sasquatch sighting stories, as often happens after he speaks in public.
Fellow BC biologist, Andy MacKinnon, later told me he is “skeptical, but not cynical” about his friend’s lifelong pursuit. “John is so passionate and is selflessly devoting so much of his time to this enterprise, he should be commended, not mocked,” MacKinnon says, adding that his advice is to “keep an open mind” on the subject.
I don’t know about you, but that’s what I intend to do.
To learn more, or to email your sasquatch story to John Bindernagel, go to his website: http://www.bigfootbiologist.org/index.html.
Photo and drawings credits