Rumors Persist Over Killing Of Montana Bigfoot
April 21, 2002 -
Rumors Persist Over Killing Of Montana Bigfoot
Contrary to widely circulating rumors, Steve Kukowski said no bipedal primate ever terrorized his livestock, was killed by his bullet or was taken away by federal agents.
"The rumors have been going around all summer," Kukowski said. "I have no idea what it is. I have no idea how it got started."
The sasquatch story has persisted for three months, but there are many different versions. Rudy Drobnick, a retired wildlife biologist with the Utah Department of Natural Resources, has been tracking the tales. Drobnick tracks bigfoot sightings across the nation.
"The reports range from an enlarged black widow spider to a giant mouse to a blown up tire on the road," Drobnick said in a telephone interview from his office in Salt Lake City. "I have no details on any aspect of it other than a bigfoot had been killed, shot or maybe hit on the road somewhere near Billings."
Given the three-month life span of the rumor and the emergence of common themes, Drobnick believes further investigation is needed. "At this point in time, based on my information, the thing is to be pursued as if it was a real creature," he said.
In most of the stories, the sighting occurred on the Crow Reservation, the beast was black and hairy and its corpse was zipped into a body bag and whisked away by federal agents minutes before local authorities could investigate.
Dexter Fallsdown, director of public safety for the Crow Tribe, described what he has heard: "A bigfoot got killed, some people came and picked him up and took him away."
Fallsdown said there has never been substantiating evidence.
"We tried to do a follow-up on him, but all of the sudden it was hush-hush," he said. "I think it's just the rumor mill."
Federal and state agents claim no knowledge of a missing link dwelling near Pryor, about 40 miles south of Billings.
Dan Vierthaler, FBI senior resident agent in Billings, was asked Monday about possible FBI participation in a bigfoot capture near Billings.
"That's the first I heard of it," he said. "I can assure you that we are not doing anything covertly to hide a body. I do not have a bigfoot in my evidence locker."
Vierthaler said he was pleased to be asked about something other than anthrax.
"This could be the next episode of the 'X Files'," he joked, referring to the popular Fox Television show about two FBI agents who investigate the paranormal, including space aliens, vampires and wildly inbred families.
Denials are to be expected from federal agents, Drobnick said. "If there's a dead one, like they said, you wouldn't be able to get anything out of them if you pried it with a crowbar."
Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, which tracks alien species, including pike and spotted knapweed, claims no involvement.
"I have no comment," information officer Bill Pryor said, jokingly. "The FBI cleaned everything up."
If a sasquatch community exists in Yellowstone or Bighorn counties, FWP would be interested in learning more, Pryor said.
"Depending on the size of the population, there's a chance we could trap, tag and redistribute some in other parts of the state," he said. "You know our routine on anything other than humans - try to build them up to huntable populations and start issuing tags."
Drobnick said he and a group of friends have recorded about 100 possible bigfoot sightings during the last 20 years. During hunting season, when Drobnick measures trophy big-game animals for the Boone and Crockett Club, he asks hunters if they spotted any unusual wildlife.
Most people say no, but there have been credible reports of sightings, Drobnick said.
"There have been at least two cases I have investigated here where people have had bigfoots in front of their cars," he said.
In 1976, a hunter driving on a snowy mountain road south of Salt Lake City had to stop his pickup to allow a bigfoot to cross the road. Another hunter briefly spotted a bigfoot in his truck's headlights in the same area.
Drobnick also heard from a man who spotted bigfoot while driving along a dirt road in Arizona in a tractor-trailer. The driver had to lock his brakes to avoid hitting the beast.
"When people continue to bring in reports that they have seen this tall, black, hairy creature when they have been out in the hills, they must have seen something," Drobnick said. "There have been hoaxes, admittedly. "
Reports of sasquatch have been around for 200 years, he said. "That's a pretty long time to continue a hoax," he said. "It's also a rather hazardous hoax to put on a black suit with hair during archery season for elk and deer."
Along with the bigfoot in Crow Country, there was also a report of a black and hairy creature spotted by Boy Scouts in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming on July 25, Drobnick said.
Drobnick said he has never seen physical evidence of a bigfoot - and he is yet to be fully convinced of its existence - but he believes the possibility is worth investigating. In a 1997 report, Drobnick said the planet is 5 billion years old and has "supported many forms of life much more bizarre than the reported bigfoot...."
At the end of the report, Drobnick urges states to pass laws protecting possible bigfoot populations "in order to ensure their safety throughout the coming years."
David Turns Plenty Sr., a minister and Pryor's elected representative to the Crow Tribe's executive committee, said the bigfoot stories continue to circulate in his community.
"There's different stories, but the one I heard was this one rancher had shot it when he saw it amongst his cattle," Turns Plenty said. "They say they took the thing to Bozeman, then I heard again that they took it out of state. A lot of people say it's for it real. I don't know."
Although no evidence supports the existence of a Pryor ape man, Drobnick said he will keep an open mind and continue searching for proof of the elusive species.
"We'll certainly keep attempting to get to the bottom of this mystery," he said. "If this thing is a hoax, then there's thousands of people being fooled by it. If it's real, we're just being eluded."
published by the
Billings Gazette via Missoulian, Missoula, Montana
Portions of this website are
reprinted under the