Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bigfoot: Myth or Economic Opportunity

The Adirondack region has a long and storied history of mysterious phenomenon. From the numerous haunted hotels, frequent unidentified flying object (UFO) sightings, a breeding mountain lion population and an unending horde of black flies, the Adirondacks have its share of paranormal curiosities. One of the most interesting and beloved of these is Bigfoot, the large, hairy hominid, with enormous feet that allegedly lurks within many of the most remote areas of North America and beyond.

Unfortunately, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently played the Grinch just in time for Christmas, stealing this beloved beast from the entire state when they officially designated Bigfoot a figment of the imagination. Instead, they should be looking at this as an opportunity to generate some economic activity in an area of the State where it is needed most.

The DEC issued a letter explaining their view of the massive biped in response to an inquiry from Peter Wiemer, a Bigfoot enthusiast and founder of the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo. The missive was apparently a response to an earlier letter from Mr. Wiemer inquiring about designating Bigfoot as a protected species in New York State. The necessity of designating a protected status on a creature never definitively photographed, yet alone captured or killed, was unfortunately unaddressed by the original inquiry.

The DEC response, allegedly written by Gordon R. Batcheller, Chief Wildlife Biologist states that, referring to Bigfoot, “does not exist in nature or otherwise” and “no program or action in relation to mythical animals is warranted.”

Instead of exposing the mythical nature of this creature, perhaps the State should look at this situation as an opportunity to bring a much-needed infusion of economic activity within the Adirondack region. Capitalizing on this opportunity may make the controversies surrounding the Adirondack Club and Resort project and the former Finch Pruyn property unnecessary, as a furry savoir could deliver the area from its current economic woes.

Numerous industries could get a boost from Bigfoot tourism. Legions of the easily deceived may flock to the North Country in search of the legendary creature. The guide industry would flourish, as hundreds of rubes journey into the backcountry, searching for the elusive beast. An interactive state-of-the-art museum, much like the Wild Center, devoted entirely to the smelly biped could fleece the curious. Local business could incorporate Bigfoot into their names to exploit the new marketing opportunity.

Unfortunately, this opportunity has been lost with the DEC’s declaration. A video has even documented that Bigfoot is leaving the state. It is unclear whether this is due to high property taxes or insult from the current controversy about its newly designated mythological nature.

Although I have never seen Bigfoot, or for that matter, any sign of its existence, I have seen some weird things in the Adirondack backcountry. I watched a white-tailed deer’s head mysteriously transform into a moose ear. Many times, I heard a strange humming noise apparently emanating from nowhere. I lived through a violent windstorm, suddenly appearing and disappearing as if it never existed, leaving thousands of acres of forest in disarray. Maybe there is a massive, hairy and smelly creature is out there too, and not just during hunting season either.

Is this the end of the DEC’s pronouncements of mythological status of beloved legendary characters or could there be more? Perhaps, the Easter bunny? Forget any colored eggs for the Forest Rangers this spring. The Tooth Fairy? Throw those teeth out, as they will not help with the State’s budget woes. Santa? Do not expect any new land acquisitions this Christmas.

I would watch your back, Champie. You just may be next.

Photo: Still from a recently released blurry video.

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Dan Crane writes regularly about bushwhacking and backcountry camping, including providing insights on equipment and his observations as a veteran backcountry explorer. He has been visiting the Adirondacks since childhood and actively exploring its backcountry for almost two decades. He is also life-long naturalist with a Master of Science in Ecology from SUNY ESF and 10+ seasons working as a field biologist, five inside the Blue Line.

Dan has hiked the Northville-Placid Trail twice and climbed all 46 High Peaks but currently spends his backpacking time exploring the northwestern portion of the Adirondacks. He is also the creator of the blog Bushwhacking Fool where he details his bushwhacking adventures.

20 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    You can’t prove the non-existence of something. What is the DEC talking about. They also denied the existence of cougars when they were running through the neighborhood.

    • John Warren says:

      DEC has never denied the existence of cougars. They deny there is a breeding population.

      • Paul says:

        John, I had my son at a hunter safety course this fall. The Encon Officer that spoke to the class said he would call you back for any reason with the exception of one if you “called to report a mountain lion sighting”. What is that all about?

      • Paul says:

        Also look at the DEC website. They deny any cougars in NYS and they also deny any tracks. Including the tracks reported in the southern Adirondacks that were from the cat killed in CT. I don’t think there is probably a breeding population but what you say is not correct based on what we know. They deny that they are here. Now there is no Bigfoot but we cannot prove it.

    • John Warren says:

      The page Paul links to says: “To date, no hard evidence has been produced that would prove the existence of cougars living and reproducing in the wild in New York.”

      • Paul says:

        What seems strange is they don’t even seem to want to check it out when a claim is made? If you won’t even look at the evidence it is hard to determine whether it is hard or not. I totally agree with the statement you quote. If you put together living AND reproducing it is probably very accurate.

  2. Tom Vawter says:

    I have never understood why folks feel the need to dwell on mythical creatures, the paranormal and the supernatural. Isn’t nature grand enough in reality to fuel our imaginations and our sense of wonder?

  3. Pete Klein says:


  4. Bigfoot could have been our ivory-billed woodpecker, bringing tourists and creating a market for made-in-China souvenir figurines. Ah well, at least we have an ice formation near the summit of Snowy Mountain that miraculously looks like the blessed . . . .

    • Wally Elton says:

      Note that ivory-billed woodpecker reports in Arkansas spurred huge new land acquisitions to protect its habitat. Another pont in favor of leeping Bigfoot “alive?”

  5. Pat says:

    Bigfoot has a much better chance of bringing economic prosperity to the Dacs than the ACR development. You are also more likely to find a real living bigfoot than realize the fantasyland economic benefits put forth by the big development.

  6. Paul says:

    Dan, Does he have the suitcase because he is coming, or is it because he is leaving? BTW the proof seems to be right there in the photo, has the DEC seen this?

    • Dan Crane says:

      The link to the video indicates he is leaving, as he set out a for sale sign just before stalking off. The voice over indicates he is leaving because of the taxes, but perhaps he was just insulted by being called mythological.

  7. Alan Senbaugh says:

    I saw Bigfoot once 1951, had a foot on it 57 inch heal to toe. Made a sound I would not want to hear again in my lifetime.

  8. Tom Stuart Sr. says:

    Believe what you want. But my sone and I will never forget what we saw or the sound that thing made. We never want to hear that again. Very scary.

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