Bigfoot Encounters

Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Waynesboro Record Herald
Thursday, 21 February 2002

Bigfoot: Big gag
Scientist says prints are fake
By DON AINES Staff writer

WAYNESBORO -- As you read this story, a prankster is probably laughing his head off. The large, unusually shaped footprints found in the muddy flats around the Waynesboro Reservoir "appear almost certainly to be a crude hoax."

At least that's the conclusion of one of the cryptozoologists who examined photos and other evidence collected at the scene.

"We can't definitely identify the brand of sneaker, but the logo is there," said Loren Coleman of Portland, Maine.

"You're getting a repeated human-made imprint in the middle of the arch," he explained Wednesday in a telephone interview.

"I was given some confidential material to review," said Coleman. "That material includes photographs taken by researchers who visited the site at the north end of the reservoir in Quincy Township.

Coleman and Mark A. Hall, another cryptozoologist from North Carolina, reviewed the evidence, which included photos other than those taken by The Record Herald on Saturday, Coleman said.

While he and Hall "do not wish to give a recipe to future pranksters...the tracks appear to reveal a type of glove or fixture made rigid and placed on the front of worn footwear," Coleman said."

Thus, the "toes' have left "claw marks' and an "ape configuration' merely as an unforeseen outcome of the design of the prankster or pranksters," Coleman and Hall wrote in an e-mail. Coleman said by telephone the prints may also have been made by the footwear of a something like a Halloween monster costume.

The initial reports of footprints piqued Coleman's interest because of what appeared to be a big toe extending away from the foot, much as it would in the prehensile foot of an ape.

During his 40 years of investigation, Coleman said he has been particularly interested in reports of "Napes," his term for North American apes. Such creatures, if they exist, would be more like a chimpanzee than the huge Bigfoot or Sasquatch of popular legend.

"If it's a hoax...we swallowed it hook, line and sinker," said Paul Scott, the brother-in-law of Steve Gates.

It was Gates and his brother Denny who found the prints near where the creek empties into the reservoir. "It's about to the point where I want somebody to prove to me how they did it," said Scott.

"I've been putting in (computer) searches for ape costumes....anything you can think of" to try and find something that could have been used to create the prints.Scott said he also saw lines in some of the tracks. "I don't think it's treads, but I can't tell you what they are," he said.

As far as he is concerned, the jury is still out as to whether the tracks are real or a trick.It was the Gates brothers and Scott who took researchers from the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) to the reservoir Sunday to take videos and make plaster casts of the prints, which extended several hundred yards.

Ron B., a researcher, could not be reached today for comment on Coleman's theory on how the tracks were formed. Ron B. said most BFRO members do not use last names because of the problems it could cause them at their jobs and in their communities.

Scott said finding the tracks has affected his life, but not in a positive way. He said he spent "12 to 16 hours" on the phone Monday and Tuesday, fielding calls from as far away as San Diego, California.

A newspaper in Maryland printed a story about the footprints "without even talking to me, Steve or Denny."

"If it's a hoax, we want to apologize to everybody," Scott said. He also has been warned about a "cyberstalker" who harasses people who have had such experiences, be they paranormal or hoaxes.

Coleman warned The Record Herald about the same individual. Coleman hopes revealing the hoax will bring the perpetrators to light. "We thought if they knew we cryptozoologists weren't fooled, maybe the people that did the prank will come forward," he said.

However temporary, the story may have had some benefits for the community.

Many people, unaware of the existence of Waynesboro, no doubt learned of it for the first time, and one local restaurant joined the fun by putting a "Bigfoot Burger" on the menu Tuesday.

Scott is sorry the story created such a stir, including an influx of people -- and trash -- at the reservoir.

The borough increased monitoring of its water source over concerns about possible contamination of the drought-depleted reservoir by curiosity seekers."I wish we'd just smeared up those tracks and never told anybody," Scott said.

The Record Herald invites the person or people responsible to come forward for an interview with proof of how they made the footprints.

Copyright The Record Herald

(....and 'no' I wasn't the telephone-caller from San Diego, it was Wireless Flash; in addition, there is no such creature as a "nape." It is the invention of a Maine cryptozoologist. North America has no fossil records of indigenous apes or monkeys.
... ..Bobbie Short)

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