Bigfoot in Upstate New York? (Hoax)
Clarence, New York May 31, 2006 -- Hans Mobius says he was clearing brush
It could be a wild animal. More likely a jokester in a monkey suit. Or maybe a Sabres fan with an out-of-control playoff beard?
But Hans Mobius swears up and down that last weekend, he saw - and photographed - a bizarre beast covered from head to toe with dark hair that walked on two legs, near a patch of dense woods on his 100-acre horse farm in Clarence.
"I called my friend and said, "I think I saw Bigfoot,' " said the 72-year-old real estate developer and president of the Erie County Farm Bureau.
Call it a "Sasquatch" - or how about the "Creature from Clarence" - but Mobius says he doesn't know what to make
"I told my wife and daughter to keep it to ourselves," said Mobius. "But my daughter said, you'd better send [the photos] to somebody."
Mobius insists that he's not making this up - and allowed that it's possible that someone is playing an elaborate hoax on him.
But Mobius believes that just maybe, he really did see the legendary, hairy biped who has inspired countless claims of sightings, photos and videos across the United States.
"I don't want to come across as a nutcase here," he said as he showed a reporter and photographer the spot on his sprawling farm where he claims to have come face to face with the creature. "It's the damned craziest thing."
Scientists and experts in wildlife, photography and Bigfoot say the photos are clearly phony.
"It's obviously a man in a suit," said Dr. D. Jeffrey Meldrum, an assistant biological sciences professor at Idaho State University, who specializes in anatomy, evolutionary morphology, primatology and paleontology and has written extensively on Sasquatch footprints. Meldrum pointed out that the head is proportioned like that of a human being. He also pointed out the short, un-apelike arms.
"Look at the forearms," he went on. "There's not natural taper at the wrist. It looks like a sleeve transitioning into a glove."
The hair, he added, "looks unnatural." "It disperses light like artificial fur would."
He also said that the series of photos show the creature standing in one spot while moving back and forth, rather than quickly running away.
"That raises real questions about the credibility of the photos," Meldrum said. "Is someone pulling a prank on him? Or is it him having a laugh, just killing time at others' expense?"
Hoaxes make the serious study of possible Bigfoot-type animals extremely complicated, Meldrum said.
"It's frustrating when people intentionally muddy the water with this type of thing," he said. "It gives the entire question a rather dubious character and that's the biggest struggle: trying to promote serious interest in what I see as a large number of credible incidents in the forms of footprints and inexplicable hairs and things like that."
David Bittner, a professional videographer who often works with Meldrum on determining the credibility of photos, said he too believes Mobius' photos are fake.
"There's no doubt in my mind that what we're looking at is a guy in a gorilla suit," said Bittner.
Mason Winfield, author of "Shadows of the Western Door," a supernatural history of Western New York who also hosts walking tours of haunted Buffalo-area spots, said he's found that Bigfoot sightings generally tend to turn out to be bogus.
But, he said, Mobius' alleged sighting is far from the first in the region.
"Believe it or not, there have been some terrific reports from around the turn-of-the-[20th] century in the Cassadaga Lake area," he said.
Batavia had a Sasquatch sighting in the 19th century, and more recently, a smattering of others have been noted in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
"Very often, they're associated with UFO sightings, curiously," Winfield said.
Mobius said that if someone is playing a prank on him, then it was someone who had noticed that he was out every day last week. He said he'd been clearing about 60 acres of grass and brush to make way for a corn field. "For ethanol," he explained.
Mobius himself is no anonymous figure in Western New York.
For decades, he has owned properties throughout Buffalo and has recently found himself in a bitter brouhaha over his commercial properties on Elmwood Avenue. Mobius wants to sell the properties to make way for a hotel. The business owners who rent from him have filed suit against him.
In 1995, Mobius made an unsuccessful run for Buffalo Common Council president as a Conservative.
But on Saturday, Mobius said he was heading out on his green John Deere Gator to take some photographs of the ash trees in a small forest - so he could try to sell the trees.
He positioned himself in front of the woods to take a panoramic photo when, he said, he "saw this thing out of the corner of my eye."
The creature, he said, which was about 150 to 200 feet away, seemed to notice him.
It turned to one side, then the other. "It looked like he might have been confused," Mobius said.
Then it "zigzagged" its way into the forest and disappeared.
"The way it moved - it kind of loped a little bit," Mobius said.
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