We don’t believe in Bigfoot at MeatEater, but we’re damn interested in him. To see if a crew of staunch skeptics could be swayed, we gathered the most respected Bigfoot authorities to answer our most pressing questions. This is part three of our eight-part series, Ask a Squatcher.
An oft-debated subject among Western hunters is the use of a pistol or bear spray in grizzly country. Oddly enough, you never hear Bigfoot experts talk about how to defend yourself from the only predator in the woods potentially bigger than a brown bear. Is it because Sasquatch’s supposed force field deflects bullets and pepper spray? Or because he’s a misunderstood gentle giant that poses no threat to humans?
Clifford Barackman runs the North American Bigfoot Center, a museum dedicated to Sasquatch in Oregon. He is also the evidence analyst for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot and made an appearance on History Channel’s Monsterquest.
“Like any large wild animal, Sasquatches are potentially dangerous. However, their demeanor seems to be more like other ape species in that they are shy and reclusive by nature. The overwhelming majority of sighting reports include observations of Sasquatches simply walking away from the witness.
“Occasionally the Sasquatch puts on a small display or acts aggressively for a few moments, but if the person doesn’t leave the area, the Sasquatch nearly always does. The very few reports of people being harmed by Sasquatches always have an instance of the human taking a shot at the creature or some other act of aggression on our part. Of course, we only hear from the witnesses that survive…”
Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum
Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum is a professor of Anatomy and Anthropology. His lab in Pocatello, Idaho, houses over 300 footprint casts from a mysterious North American primate. He is the author of “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science,” which explores the scientific evidence for Bigfoot.
“Naturally, any large predatory animal is potentially dangerous and deserving of proper deference. However, most reported encounters with Sasquatch are rather innocuous: witness sees Bigfoot and both retreat in opposite directions. Sasquatch is generally perceived as a shy, solitary creature that avoids human contact. With an ape’s intelligence (or better) comes a level of curiosity, which I believe draws them to investigate human activities.
“In those few anecdotes where violence occurs, it is typically the human that is the antagonist, shooting at the Sasquatch. Having said that, there are those who describe Bigfoot as a ‘cannibal giant’ that eats hunters and abducts women and children, just as many African natives attributed such behaviors to the once-mysterious gorillas. Throughout the Pacific and Inter-Mountain West, dzunoqua and tsaw-haw-bits are two of various names applied to the hairy monster that snatched and ate wayward children.”
Ronny Le Blanc
Ronny Le Blanc hosts the show Expedition Bigfoot on Travel Channel. His team claims to have Bigfoot evidence that includes hair samples, infra-sound vocalizations, footprints, nests, and thermal imagery. He is the author of “Monsterland,” a deep dive on the Bigfoot phenomenon.
“Sasquatch are more interested in evading us than pursuing us. Reports of rocks being launched from the darkness of the forest have been consistent over the years. Loud tree breaks have also been experienced when individuals have unexpectedly found themselves in a Sasquatch hotspot.
“Evidence of twisting hardwood trees has also been discovered in some of these Bigfoot areas. What classified species of animal can do this? None that we are aware of! Whatever it is, it is something extremely powerful that could rip us limb from limb if it wanted to. Aside from scaring off unwanted campers and investigators, rarely are people hurt. It seems they just simply want us out of their territory.
“One of the earliest and most recognized actions of aggression towards humans comes from The Oregonian in 1924. According to the article, five miners had their cabin attacked by several Sasquatch. The next day, one of the miners, Fred Beck, claimed to shoot one of these ‘ape men’ and watched it drop into the gorge.
“There are also several Bigfoot researchers convinced that some people who go missing in forests are victims of Bigfoot taking them away. This echoes the early stories of ‘hairy cannibals’ or ‘hairy savages’ from Cherokee, Shawnee, and Chickasaw tribes.”
Matt Moneymaker is the founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. His group has the most comprehensive sightings database in the world, with nearly 5,000 encounters reported in the last 25 years. He is also a host of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot.
“Bigfoots can and will kill dogs that attack them. With respect to humans, Bigfoots are the least dangerous of all large mammals (based on their track record of killing and hurting zero humans in modern times). Stories of humans disappearing in the same forests where Bigfoots reside just don’t cut it. That is pure coincidence based on conjecture. You could just as easily blame UFOs for those disappearances.
“The absence of victims and injuries is the best evidence that Bigfoots simply do not attack humans. I’ve been close to them many times. Bigfoots have had many opportunities to harm me. Often I was alone and I was trying to provoke them. They will sometimes try to scare humans, and they do a good job of that, but that’s all they do.
“Intimidation by throwing rocks works well and never seems to cause injuries. Avoiding physical contact seems to be a conscious decision on their part. During my intimidation encounters, I always got the sense that they wanted me to leave the area. They could be dangerous but choose not to.”
Feature graphic via Hunter Spencer.