Bigfoot Encounters

Grand Rapids Herald Review
Bigfoot: Legend lives on despite lack of evidence...

By Marie Nitke and Leanna Goose, Herald-Review
Last Updated: Friday, June 30th, 2006

Recent allegations of a “resident Bigfoot” living in this area has sparked conversation and controversy among Northern Minnesotans. Many roll their eyes in disbelief. Others laugh with sheer amusement. Then there are those that act unfazed and relate their own personal stories of the sasquatch. Still others are intrigued, asking more questions and wondering “what if?”

Countless numbers of scientists, most notably zoologists and cryptozoologists, along with amateurs and self-made Bigfoot researchers, have devoted years of their lives to trying to answer the question of whether or not sasquatch creatures exist.

Recorded history of the possible existence of such creatures dates back to the early 1800’s, with the first official report of a large footprint. Since then, findings of footprints, handprints, body prints and sightings of the creatures themselves have been reported by the thousands in many remote, mountainous areas throughout Canada and the United States.

Reports of Bigfoot-type creatures have also been alleged in Malaysia, China, Russia, Australia, South America and Hawaii (in some of these countries the creatures are known as Yeti), proving that people’s fascination with sasquatch creatures is a world-wide phenomenon.

And that includes the Northwoods corner of the world. The Bigfoot “evidence” found in the area in the last month was not the first.

Craig Schmidt, Area Forest Supervisor stationed at the Deer River forestry office, said that he remembers hearing reports of sightings around Northome and Mizpah. “I’m guessing that was probably 20 years ago,” he said.

According to, many people have claimed to see Bigfoot in Minnesota. Besides the recent reports in Ball Club and Walker, the counties of Anoka, Beltrami, Becker, Clearbrook, and St. Louis all have reported sasquatch sightings or findings of large, unexplainable footprints.

But could sasquatch creatures be real? Is the legend based in science, or purely sensationalistic? Skeptics argue that witnesses simply mistake known creatures, such as bears, for sasquatch, and claim that anyone could easily hoax footprints or handprints, or be victims of a hoax. They also question why the elusive creatures have never been clearly photographed or filmed. But the biggest question that remains unanswered is, where are the bodies? If the creatures exist, wouldn’t remains have been found, or a living sasquatch been captured?

Famed primatologist Jane Goodall, in a 2002 interview on National Public Radio, spoke of her desire to believe in the creatures but remained skeptical, saying, “The big, big criticism of all this is, ‘Where is the body?’ You know, why isn’t there a body? I can’t answer that, and maybe they don’t exist, but I want them to.”

Bigfoot proponents say the absence of fossilized evidence is not enough to disprove a creature’s existence. The late Grover Krantz, professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University, suggested in a 1992 essay, “Big Footprints: A Scientific Inquiry into the Reality of Sasquatch,” that Bigfoot remains have not been found because the creatures, like most animals, hide before they die and are then quickly lost to scavengers. He also points out that fossilization requires “ideal” conditions -- such as being covered by a landslide or mudslide soon after death.

But sasquatch researchers also have yet to turn up any conclusive physical evidence, such as hair or blood samples. Though various samples have been retrieved from locations after reported Bigfoot sightings, they have either turned out to belong to other known species such as elk, bison, or bear, or the results of the tests have been inconclusive.

This has led many scientists and skeptics to completely dismiss the idea of Bigfoot, laughing it off as a ridiculous hoax or folklore nonsense. But, despite their critics, believers continue their quest to find the sasquatch. Why?

One reason may be because dozens of other legendary creatures, including the Colossal Squid, Mountain Gorilla, Komodo Dragon and Okapi, which had previously been scoffed at by scientists as purely mythical or extinct beings, were eventually proven as very much real and alive.
Also, bi-pedal (two-legged) humanoid, ape-like creatures once existed in prehistoric ages. One species known as Paranthropus, for example, has been suggested by Bigfoot researchers as an ancestor of the North American sasquatch, as it would have looked very much like Bigfoot has been described, with a crested skull and bi-pedal gait.

Paranthropus first appeared about 2.7 million years ago and had a brain about 40 percent the size of a modern human’s. They were tall and muscular, and are thought to have lived in wooded areas on a diet of grubs and plants. According to a Web site related to the Human Origins program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the species disappeared from the fossil record about 1.2 million years ago, which is generally attributed by scientists as the direct result of the species’ unadaptability to a dramatic climactic change.

Some Bigfoot believers, however, think sasquatch creatures are a relict population or subspecies of Paranthropus that still exist in remote areas today.

Remote areas like the Minnesota Northwoods?
Who knows. Until some definite remains are found or an actual creature can be captured, the question of whether or not the rumors and lore of Bigfoot creatures are born of truth can not be answered. Skeptics say no. Believers say it’s only a matter of time.

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