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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Kill Bigfoot For Science?

Many Years ago ~the 1970s~ John Green suggested perhaps, in fact he was quite clear, a Bigfoot needed  to be killed to prove its existence to Science. Dmitri Bayanov argued against this. I argued against this (but let's face it, people are going to remember Dmitri Bayanov not me!).  Grover Krantz stated the same thing as Green and added that the first person brought in a Bigfoot body deserved great accolade and reward. The second person who killed Bigfoot....should be hung.

Now, despite the fact that Dr Sykes is said to have "killed off" the whole Bigfoot/Yeti subject with his DNA tests that were very badly reported on a certain UK TV series.  In fact, Sykes pointed out that just because he had not received any unknown hominid DNA did not mean there was no unknown hominid.

I am sixty years old.  Field naturalist since I was a kid ~I got out there and turned over stones, dug up the garden and more just to see what was there other than snails, worms and beetles. One day, after a heavy Summer downpour, the sky brightened and I looked out to see if there was a rainbow.  This was around 1967 in Sevier Street, St Werburgh's, so I was around 10 years old.  At the top of the garden was the stone wall that separated our house from Mina Road Park so we got all kinds of things in the garden. Just outside the back door was the coal shed and the outdoor toilet (the houses were old).  On this sunny day I saw something moving snappily up the outside wall of the privy. It was in perfect sunlight and less than 10 feet (3m) from me. It was approximately 5~6 inches (12.5~15 cms) in length and the width I could not tell but looked about 1 inch thick (2.5 cms).  Why could I not tell the exact thickness?  It was covered in thick, furry hairs of a grey~fawn colour.  I called to the nearest adult but they were too busy.  Only I saw it.  Never been able to identify what it was. These old areas were tiny environments of their own before over developing. Unknown species of moth? Butterfly? Who knows.

Yes, I got a lot of stick over the years describing this caterpillar.  But I saw it in clear sunlight and I was wide awake.  More than once I have had someone state: "I bet you wished you'd swatted it now to prove it was real?"  No.

It was alive and could well have been the last of its species. I have no idea. Many people ignore bugs in their garden because "they are just bugs".  However, some of those bugs may be from scientifically unknown species or sub~species.  Some of the big names in zoology believe that there are more species to be discovered in British gardens (gardens anywhere really) than we think.

In my 50 years (I hate realizing it was that long ago!) as a naturalist I have read about, seen and looked at specimens of "newly discovered" species. Finally recognized by Science.  Protected. No. You see, Science likes to chop up and classify from its collective lofty tower and it likes to see paper after paper from specialists on "its" discoveries (you see, whoever finds the new species might get a footnote but unless they are a member of high standing in Science they will be a footnote).

Let's look at something from my own personal fields of study: Canids and Felids.

We know the wolf exists. We know that in a great many areas they were driven to the verge of extinction, or right over that verge.  Why?  We classed them as Endangered under all the correct international legislation.  We protected them and their habitats.  Despite what they might claim, farmers lose a sheep occasionally they get compensated.  Wolves prefer the hunt and there are plenty of deer, rodents and other foods out there.  We re~introduce wolves into old areas.  Not a big surprise drop and cursory "Oh, there are wolves back here now. Bye!" All planned in advance and everyone knows.

But now greed and tiny minds get into it. Hunters claiming they have to hunt deer, rabbit and many other species because "they are over running the area" suddenly have the predator that takes care of these animals (Predator and Prey).  No. Their fun, and it is fun for these people, is threatened. Suddenly the politician, part of the system supposed to support and protect endangered species is involved.  Whether in the pocket of wealthier sponsors or fearing bigger supporters might not support him/her at the next election, now they don't give a crap about some pesky wolf "there are plenty more out there!" (words uttered by the moron who shot the last thylacine no doubt).

A cattle farmer who has never grassed or placed his herd into a certain area before suddenly decides that he is going to.  He knows, everyone knows, that it is the home of a wolf pack.  A wolf pack that has never caused problems before and yet here is a farmer driving a herd into an established denning area. Where wolves needing to feed young will "threaten" his herd.  He calls for the wolves, on whose area HE has encroached for no sensible or logical reason, be culled.  And the authorities drop their pants and bend over for him.

Permits are given to hunters to cull some of the wolves in an area (take your pick) because "the population has grown out of control" you really cannot move without tripping over one. They kill 2 or 3 wolves because there is no huge population.

The same applies to wolverine, another animal I have studied. Hunting licenses given to over a hundred hunters to kill more than a hundred in an over populated area ~again, you are falling over wolverine!  That is not how wolverine live or have territories.  However, the hunt finds and kills....none. All of this massive wolverine population used a "cloaking device" no doubt. Hunters and those associated with them will manipulate and exaggerate numbers and some using methods that seem, to the public, scientific...because they have no idea.

Cat species. Protected, Endangered, Verge Extinction and even, yes, one sighted after a population was thought extinct gets shot.  Name your species.  Name your country. United States, where big hunters will buy a tame black leopard, crowd around it after it is released from a cage and kill it before it goes ten feet ~great trophy kill (video taped and still online).

Here's another. Foxes. Bear, lynx and wolves were hunted to extinction in the UK.  Hunted for sport. In the 18th century (as outlined in my book Red Paper: Canids) the fox was about to join the others in extinction. What happened?  Right up until the 1930s thousands of foxes were imported every year and sold at market centres in the UK, especially London, for the purpose of re~populating areas where foxes had been wiped out "otherwise our sport would die". In the 1920s the House of Parliament became embroiled in an argument when it was discovered a well established Hunt had paids for foxes to be caught in Ireland and exported to create a new population to hunt.  The Irish Hunt whose area the foxes were taken from complained in the strongest terms.

Gorillas are protected by international/national laws, as are other species, 'big game' hunters still travel to countries where those animals live to kill them and have "photo trophies".

Science...well, it is "disgusted" and demands action is taken but, well, that's it. Most of these scientists are lost if you put them in a cow paddock in the middle of Somerset(I won't name him but it was very funny at the time).

1.   What is the species population number of Sasquatch in Canada?
2.   What is the species population number of Bigfoot in the United States?
3.   Do these hominids breed yearly or is there a lengthier period between breeding seasons?
4.   What is the gestation period of these hominids?
5.   How long after birth do young hominids of this species become independent and able to forage for themselves?
6.   At what age do the females of this species become fertile and capable of breeding?
7.   What are the mortality rates amongst newborn or immature/juvenile hominids of this species?

Those are basics.  Can Science answer 1) and 2) if it has a corpse? No  well then, could Science answer 3) if it had a dead specimen?  No.  Could Science answer 4) if it had a corpse and if it were a female?  No.  So, how about 5)~7)?  No.

Science can point and say "There. Proof! Aren't We wonderful?"  That's it.  Write it up, stuff and mount the specimen and then ....well, suddenly all those field biologists who were laughing before will want to become the next Jane Goodall (yet they have no interest in what the lady herself currently has to say on the subject!).  And those trophy hunters (realize that this is a mental illness so logic and sense plays no part in it) want that trophy photo or piece of Bigfoot whether an ear, finger or other body part and, sorry, folks, they do not give a crap about Science or legal protection, and they have proven this over and over again ad nauseum.

We are living in the 21st century.  The year (currently) 2017.  There is absolutely no scientific reason for killing any newly discovered animal species nor to kill to prove their existence.  Look at the trail cam photos and footage from expeditions and surveys over the last few years ~a Tiger thought to be extinct still lives in the area but...is it a fake video?  Surely one needs to be killed to prove that it is genuine footage and that the tiger species does still live there?  Why not?  If you are really stuck on that question, well, I'm sure Finding Bigfoot is on TV where you are.

There is a major problem.  The "Bigfoot Community", which does not really exist because it is basically groups of followers of certain 'celebrities' or other cliques.  The one thing I find fascinating about the You Tube series After Hours With Rictor and Rictor After Dark (at times very rude but very funny) is that it shows the Public what it never sees.  The Public can watch Finding Bigfoot and, despite never finding anything in all its years on air (it began in 2011), it is seen as the respectable face of "Bigfooting" even though, when they have handled possible evidence, it has made me cringe because they tend to contaminate....lie down in what you believe might be a "Bigfoot ground nest" and don't even take samples.  Entertainment.

You then have the comedy and entertainment side of the subject where 'facts' are made up as they go along in programmes such as Swamp Monsters, Mountain Monsters and Alaska Monsters.  But, if you read items online or even in comments on You Tube you will read that people believe these last three shows are deadly serious.  Others ask "is this real or fake?"  Seriously, if you are in either of those groups...please send me money as I need to feed a British unknown hominid I keep in my shed.

Let me make this clear. I have no problem with these programmes as they all clearly state "for entertainment purposes only" and that kind of tells you "This ain't real".

We then have what are being called the "Woo Woos" ~the fringe Spiritual/paranormal  Bigfoot people. And the outright fakes such as SOHA (Southern Oregon Habituation Area).  I read as much as I can and watch as much footage as I can on things I look in to.  I see no evidence for spiritual or paranormal Bigfoot and I think Dr Johnson and his statements prove what is going on. Bigfoot are entities in all trees no matter where...that is using folklore from other countries but if not outright fakery then this all comes from Dr Johnson's mind.

But even amongst the "Woo Woos" there are factions. So not much community.

And "Bigfooters" sabotaging each others field work doesn't help.  Or if a Bigfooter claims to have found some evidence or even an area frequented by an unknown hominid they get name calling. That or every 'Bigfoot investigator' in the country swamp an area.  Proving that they have no real idea. Again, I will give examples.

"Birders", "Twitchers" ~dedicated ornithologists.  They hear that a rare bird or rare visitor to the UK has taken up a nest in a certain tiny wood or corner of a field.  Do they set up cameras pointed toward the nest to collect footage?  No.  They want to tick the bird on their list.  Seriously.  These supposed dedicated bird watchers will scare the bird off and then they will call the birder who spotted it a liar or say he could not identify a seagull.

I know of one farmer in Norfolk who took a photo of a rare avian visitor.  It seemed to be nesting in a tree in the corner of a field. It was still there after three days so he announced the birds presence and posted the photos on a blog.  At 4 a.m. the next morning he grabbed a wooden club from a hallway as he saw lights outside and heard a commotion and feared thieves were raiding his farm. He opened his front door to be blinded by a torch shone at him and a voice shout "Cut it out ~you'll scare it off!" He looked and counted at least 25 people and they were at the base of the tree smoking and 'talking quietly' with cameras ready.  Apparently they had parked their cars on a pathway and moved 'quietly' across the farm, private property. They even told the farmer in no uncertain terms how stupid he was and that he needed to tidy up his yard as a couple of them had almost fallen into machinery.

The police were called and trespassers removed. The bird was not seen again.  An extreme case but there are similarities with Bigfooters.  And say someone who knows birds talks to another person who is supposed to know birds and is called an idiot?  Happened to me. At the last place I lived we had all types of birds ~small species, pigeons, jackdaws, barn owls and even sparrowhawks "dropping by".  When I looked out one sunny day I had to do a double take.  Attracted by the pigeons, no doubt, on the post of my wire fence sat a peregrine falcon and I called my sister to also check it out. It was less than 10 feet (3m) away and spent a minute on the fence before flying off as I got my camera ready.  We were only about 3 miles from the Avon Gorge and Bristol's Clifton Supension Bridge were these falcons live.

I mentioned this to a "veteran naturalist" who only lived around a mile from me.  "No, you probably mistook a sparrow hawk for a peregrine"...! Now, I have been within 3 feet (90cms) of a sparrowhawk over its kill.  I've photographed them and even had one at the property in question that used to fly by and flip up the pony tail I had at the time (before realizing it was a sad thing to have). I also keep a bird guide next to my window and on the occasion in question when my sister asked what bird it was I flipped the book open to a large illustration of a peregrine falcon.  No. I was mistaken. just like hawks will not go into hedges to hunt and yet I have seen them do so  on five separate occasions when the sparrows fly into hedges.

I never realized I had a badger coming to my garden. I hear a noise and, in the dark, look out and there it is. Drinking from the water trough.  Next day I find two tracks. I mentioned this to another naturalist but it appears I was mistaken.  "Sure you were not dreaming?" I was asked as I visualized kicking a certain fellow naturalist in the arse.  I gathered a fair bit of info on badgers were badgers should not be.  I never shared that.

So, perhaps if I had shot the badger I would have my evidence?  If I had shot that peregrine falcon I would have had my evidence.  A corpse.

A corpse proves something is there.  It does not do a great deal else because, as I have learnt, the "expert" (X equals the Unknown and "spurt" is a drip under pressure) will say "Must have been the last of its species" and you will respond "But where there is one ~there must be others?" and the mocking chortle followed by "Oh, I doubt it. You'd need to prove that!"

I wrote a paper  Non Native Species And Sasquatch Evidence Gathering: Attempting To Gather Scientific Evidence For Species Existence Using Non-Lethal Methodology. I published it on this blog back in 2015 (originally written in 2009) after a deafening silence from Bigfoot groups in the US and Canada I sent a copy to.  If you called yourself a Naturalist, Zoologist or Scientist and believe that in this day and age the only way you can "prove it is to kill it" you are a disgrace and lazy.  

Naturalists are usually always looked down as amateurs though there are some very famous naturalists but they have "Sir" or "Lord" in front of their names or are big TV personalities. Naturalists tend to be dedicated but unpaid individuals but they supply most of the raw data and field work and even conclusions that the paid professionals, the Zoologists, use and make their name from. In the UK there are no real university departments of Natural History because it "isn't sexy enough to attract money" as several actual zoologists told me.  Departments of biology have trouble enough getting money.  So the naturalist has to do the work in their spare time or even during their holiday periods.  So, whereas people may write or say "Noted Naturalist Terry Hooper" it  just means I have a reputation and I am unfunded. Poor!

Have I tried getting zoologists to cooperate on projects, even if only advisory?  Yes.  Most will tell you that if you come up with results they will look at them for you but they could not possibly get involved in the work or publicly as they "have to think about their jobs and funding".  So, while I had the top DNA man and his assistant willing to do tests on hair and fecal matter for evidence of, in this case, large non native cats, for free and police wildlife officers were ready to gather any samples the professional zoologists sat back waiting the results so that they could, officially, announce any discovery because even with the top DNA man/lab involved no results were legitimate until "the professional scientist says so" (I was told that).

In the end we got any number of  "British Big cat" enthusiasts going out and bypassing me to send samples direct to the lab as "coming from Big cat".  On several occasions I had phone calls from police forces stating a Big cat enthusiast had gathered fecal matter.  It was described to me and then photos sent ~lots of fruit and hair.  Fox.  Material never went to a lab willing to give up many thousands of pounds worth of time and analysis.  Other samples were cow hair and sheep wool ~taken by investigators from wire...around cow and sheep fields.  Sheep droppings that looked like sheep droppings and were found where there were plenty of free roaming sheep.  Shades of Dr Sykes' work.  That said, DNA of large non native cats was found. There have even been bodies to which came the response "Well, there is the British mystery cat. Dead. End of story".

Another point.  I had reports from police officers, naturalists and several zoologists who had observed non native cats at very close proximity in very clear conditions.  One zoologist was a very senior man whose credentials made him about reproach and he had studied pumas in Canada.  So, when he sees a puma cross the road and stop in front of him, about 10 feet (3m) from him at look directly at him (he had stopped his car to avoid hitting the animal) for 20~30 seconds before moving off and that zoologist leaves the car and measures objects (road barrier etc) to gauge a more accurate size of the animal you think "irrefutable".  No. Some biologist teaching night classes then says the senior zoologist did not see a puma and the ill educated followers of cryptozoology (who cares about cryptozoology and what it says?) believe the biologist (who was terrified at the prospect of my giving the zoologist his telephone number to discuss the matter!).  Another zoologist, familiar with puma, was on holiday in Scotland and fishing. He sat by the river and watched as a "Juvenile male puma" came from bushes and stole the fish he had caught and ran off with it.  Like another Canadian zoologist who was driving through Scotland and almost hit a puma that ran across the road, the fishing zoologist said "Bloody cougar!"...then, it seems, both men realized they were in Scotland and "there are no pumas in Scotland, right?"

Zoology goes by reports.  Someone sights a badger, deer or other animal with young it is noted and this goes on the record to show new young that year and estimate age, etc..  Accepted.  No question. It is known as anecdotal evidence and you build a picture from it.  You present several hundred reports of a similar nature from verified genuine observers of large felids...not accepted.  Why? Here is the joke.  It shows how dim these people of "Science" are when it suits them:

"If these cats were out there lots of people would be seeing them.  Some of them would be killed by cars or shot. You'd find deer or other animals they had killed."

But that evidence, as well as evidence pertaining to dentition of a large cat involved by an noted expert was presented.  Police forces know these cats are out there otherwise why were they calling me in from 1977 to 2007 and why were senior police officers discussing how to react to sightings? Farmers and the National Farmers Union know these cats are out there.  They have all seen the evidence and even HM Government Department for Environment Farming and Rural affairs (DEFRA) know these cats are out there and one of its people actually showed me a desk draw full of plaster casts of lynx, puma and even leopard tracks from the UK (before realizing who I was!).  hunters and even rural 'pest control' shooters, estate owners and game keepers know these cats are out there.

Leave them alone and do nothing unless they create a problem.  Forget the hoaxers: no human in the UK has EVER been injured in any way by a wild living large cat ~there is too much food out there for them.

So all the evidence needed. Along with a Zoological garden and zoologists I once planned to trap, tranquilize, get samples from then re~release a puma on a farm where it passed through on a daily route.  Everything supervised so that no harm came to the animal but a tracker was to be placed on it. What happened?  We were loaded and ready to travel and a snitchy biologist informed DEFRA: both I and everyone involved were told in very clear language that if we captured any such cat it was to be shot in the cage or transported to a zoological facility with a licence to keep it in a safe enclosure but it must not under any circumstance be released after capture as any damage it caused to livestock would be attributable to us. Licences were threatened to be revoked and it was made very clear to me that I would be arrested, questioned and papers seized.

Over a 'non existent' large cat in the UK.  Never trust an academic.  I could write a book on why not.

Killing a Bigfoot tells us nothing other than that it is there. What we need are qualified naturalists, people who know the flora and fauna of their areas, fully equipped with all the DNA/sample gathering equipment and materials they need, to go out and do field studies.  In areas of high activity to set up trail cams of HD quality that criss~cross active areas and even set up 24/7 remote cameras with feed recorded and monitored.  Here is the problem: that takes money.  It takes time. Going out into forests and broadcasting alleged Bigfoot calls or making them, hitting trees with sticks for a couple nights or few days: pointless.  If these calls or wood~knocks are genuine then what do they mean? "Run ~humans are here!"?  No one knows.  Do not mimic alleged Bigfoot calls!  We have no idea what the wood~knocks mean either ~a challenge? A warning?  Just do not.

Bigfooters tend to want to keep their nights out and locations secret from other Bigfooters.  So, two groups of Bigfooters in a forested valley not knowing about one another.  Group A tries to use calls....Group B hears a Bigfoot call!  It answers with a call of its own...Group A receives a 'response'!!  Same with wood~knocks.

Yes, Science laughs at the Bigfoot 'community' because it acts unscientifically and at times it deserves to be laughed at and mocked.  You get a Bigfooter who sincerely pleads for silly differences and arguments to be put aside and for everyone to work together to prove Bigfoot exists and to get it some form of protection. "Let's do it scientifically!"  Name~calling and more follows.

It has always been this way: Rene Dahinden, John Green and others reacted irrationally when Tom Slick, who was footing the bills, put Peter Byrne in charge of his Bigfoot project. Each one was "miffed" because he should have been put in charge not Byrne.

There is no reason why, if teams of naturalists could get the backing, that Bigfooters could not contribute personal knowledge of an area or inform any team of increased activity in a specific area that could be focussed on.

I still find it hard to believe that activity at Snellgrove ~including stone throwing in one recorded incident~ did not result in cameras set up around the area as well as other evidence gathering equipment.  The owner certainly seemed to want to find out what was causing the damage at his cabin and scaring off people.  No one bothered?

Habituation is foolhardy. We know nothing, no real hard knowledge, about the species or how it acts or anything else other than anecdotal evidence.  That can be built on.  However, putting out food to entice an unknown creature, hominid or not, to approach humans is foolish.

Lori Simmons claims that the "Big Guy" can be communicated with at a certain tree.  She places food offerings there and has made sound recordings.  In one, Adam Davies ("I've heard tigers in the wild") is heard to say that the growl heard is exactly the same as when he approached the tree in question previously.  I have had this playing at full volume of headphones and it is just about audible.

I have also listened carefully to other Simmons recordings.  Note someone says that "it sounded like a breath or(?) moan".   Bear.  Blowing and clacking their teeth and other vocalizations are recorded and some clear enough that the clacking teeth and even, on one recording, of warning sound left no doubt. If you have hours of time to waste wearing headphones and listening to these recordings then do and then check out the North American Bear Centre's Vocalizations and Body Language page:

https://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/black-bear/communication/29-vocalizations-a-body-language.html

I'm the felid and canid man but even I could identify the vocalizations.  I have no doubt that Simmons is sincere and feels this to be a connection with her late father but she is in a very dangerous position in doing what she does.

Naturalists of even minimum field experience should be able to tell a bear vocalization from that of an unknown species and that is why HQ audio recording devices are also needed.  Cameras and recorders not just in the hands of the people involved but set up around camp.

It is lazy and Unscientific to just say "bring us a dead one".  Gather the evidence scientifically, and it will take time unless a team got very lucky, then attempt to study feeding habits and habitat because that tells you a great deal and data already gathered may be very valuable to naturalist teams. Imagine the financial pay~back for a financial backer if, other than Bigfoot tracks or vocalizations, a team got good clear footage or images of an unknown hominid.  Obviously, these would need to be looked at by others experts to see what they could ascertain but a team of naturalists are not attention seeking, unprofessional TV celebrities out for "the big score".  TV syndication use, periodical usage fees as well as the chance to go down in history as the man/woman who finance the "great discovery" ~a lot to gain.

I did formulate a plan many years ago but if you do not have the financial backing...well, it has to be down to field work and that could be of two weeks at a time.  This is why Snellgrove seemed to be the perfect spot ~a place to set up and even monitor cameras and audio equipment while being in a more "secure" place than a tent.  Pay and I'll spend a month there.
Above from the TV series "Killing Bigfoot"....wouldn't that be 'fun'?


So, you can argue the pros and cons of killing an unknown hominid but it comes down to being a bad idea.

This post has gotten long enough so I will include my now old post.  It might give a few ideas.

Non Native Species And Sasquatch Evidence Gathering



Attempting To Gather Scientific Evidence For Species Existence Using Non-Lethal Methodology.



This is from a draft paper I put together in 2009.  It was to be part of a paper I had hoped to present to the Eastern Cougar Foundation.   Comments are welcome.
 Above: Melanistic puma.
 Draft



          Attempting To Gather Scientific Evidence For Species

                                     Existence Using

                             Non-Lethal Methodology.                                         

                             TERRY HOOPER-SCHARF
                              Exotic Animals Register [EAR]
                                         United Kingdom

    

Introduction
 
From a very early age I learnt “science demands proof” and that, zoologically speaking, ”the body of evidence” is just that.  A corpse.   Without a corpse to dissect and study we are told that science cannot accept anything as existing.

The Carthaginian, Hanno, encountered a Lowland gorilla [Gorilla g. gorilla] briefly but that was two thousand years ago.  Andrew Battle, in the late 16th century had encountered Lowland Gorillas and his account of this, as well as encounters with other forms of African wildlife were presented in a book in 1614.

Skulls, parts of skeletons and even skins were brought back to Europe, the UK in particular, but those travellers presenting this evidence were often laughed out of scientific places of learning.

Even though gorillas had been exhibited in travelling menageries –we know that in 1855,Wombwell’s travelling menagerie had a gorilla called “Jenny” on display and there are news reports of gorilla [“an African wild man of the forest”] coming in by ship in 1800,it was not until 1851 that the existence of the gorilla was scientifically accepted and catalogued.

In August,1902,Captain von Beringe succeeded in killing two gorillas but recovered only one body which was sent back to Europe and classed as Gorilla gorilla beringei –the Eastern Gorilla.

We have, in the UK, tracks identified by experts specialising in Felids at zoological gardens and even former African trackers running a deer park here, as being leopard [Panthera pardus].  Anyone picking up a field guide to tracks or even accessing the internet today can identify such tracks.  There have been hairs recovered by police after “big cat” incidents that have been DNA tested by two reputable laboratories and the results were Panthera pardus

There are also tracks and hairs consistent with the Puma [Puma concolor] and lynx species [Lynx lynx].  There are many very credible witnesses who have seen cats at close proximity [0-20m] and some of these were trained naturalists and one senior lecturer in zoology at a university who was also an expert wildlife consultant.  It is fair to say that there is also good photographic and video footage of non-native species.

We also have photographic records of large cat [puma] attack on horses and a large number of photographs of sheep, deer and other prey animals bearing all the signs of typical large cat kills.  Recordings of puma calls even.

Despite this, some experts say they still want a body as “proof” –a totally pointless exercise unless it is out of curiosity [Red Paper: Felids -unpublish]
 
It should be unacceptable that, in the 21st century, science requires a corpse as evidence that a particular animal exists.  We can, with non-injuring ‘traps’ and other means, not to mention remote trail-camera traps, gain enough evidence that a species exists but killing an animal might have dire consequences.  What if a Felid or other animal killed is a female and has young.  Without the mother to provide food those young will die.  And without maternal training to give older cubs hunting skills they will need, those young can become “messy killers”.

And what if the animal killed is, say, the last male or female of the species,or at least last of a breeding pair?  The species is lost.

In the 1970s,there was a great debate, often heated, amongst Hominologists, those looking for the Sasquatch/Bigfoot in the USA and Canada and Almasty in the former USSR.  Leading US researcher John Green, along with Grover Krantz, put forward the same old argument “science needs a corpse as proof –so shoot a Bigfoot”.

Dmitri Bayanov, of the  Darwin Museum, Moscow, argued that, if the hominid was a relic primitive man population then shooting one would be homicide and at the time I came out on Mr. Bayanov’s side based on our not knowing how many such hominids there might be, if any, and if the last one of a breeding pair was killed the science might be happy but the species was doomed.

But in the 1970s we never had DNA testing or the other scientific and technical aids that we have today.

What I am putting forward in this paper are ways to gain evidence that science can study and base conclusions on without a body.  The methodology can be applied to most animals whether felid, canid or hominid.  It is based on past experience as a naturalist as well as other training that cannot be specified.



It is in fact an intelligence gathering methodology in which physical traces of a species as well as other visual data are gathered and analysed.  This information should then help decide the basis of how to proceed next.

And we must never forget the "Absence of Evidence" often quoted by what are called the "skeptics". Irving Copi the American philosopher, logician, and university textbook author. wrote:

"In some circumstances it can be safely assumed that if a certain event had occurred, evidence of it could be discovered by qualified investigators. In such circumstances it is perfectly reasonable to take the absence of proof of its occurrence as positive proof of its non-occurrence."

This is something that Carl Sagan once wrote about.  The argument from ignorance for "absence of evidence" isn't necessarily fallacious.  For instance,  that a new, potentially life saving drug poses no long term health risk unless proven otherwise. It might be argued that were such an argument to rely imprudently on the lack of research to promote such a conclusion, it would be considered an informal fallacy- whereas the former can be a persuasive way to shift the burden of proof in an argument or debate. 

 Carl Sagan criticized such "impatience with ambiguity" in cosmologist Martin Rees' maxim, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" (Sagan, Carl (1997). The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine. p. 213. ISBN 0-345-40946-9. OCLC 32855551)

To put it in another way: jurors at a trial might be told by the prosecution that a defendant had been heard to say in a heated argument "I will kill you!"  Ten days later the subject of this outburst was fond dead.  Therefore the defendant did it.  The defendant is known to have had a violent past. The defence would then claim "where is the proof?"

I was once astonished when Sagan, again, stated that there is no evidence that extraterrestrials (in "UFOs") are visiting the Earth -but there is no evidence that extraterrestrials (in "UFO") are not visiting the Earth.

A scientist at whatever level -university big name down to the lowly naturalist- must always keep this in mind in whatever field they are involved in.
 "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"
 Feed-back is always welcome.

Terry Hooper-Scharf

Bristol

April,2009
 _____________________________________________________________________________
Feedback was quite negative and every and any  excuse was offered because it was quite clear that whom ever owned the cameras wanted to be listed as the owner of evidence gathered by camera and to have the sole right to sell or use the footage/images without any consultation.  The very idea of a Field Study Team was laughable.

In fact, many were still citing World War One and World War Two as vital points in the release of non native cats into the UK.  Many citing unidentified USAF units as having "Big Cat" mascots (the Puma is not a big cat but of the medium sized cat family) that they dumped in England at the end of the wars.  
Sadly, all this information they gleaned from one main source -myself and the old Exotic Animals Register (EAR) Bulletin. By the late 1990s research had shown that there were no traceable USAF units with big cat mascots in the UK and I proved, along with the assistance of a university, that various cats, canids (Jackals, wolves etc) were being released with public knowledge for hunting as far back as the 18th century and well into the early 20th century.  "Cribbing" other peoples research means you never know how old the info is that you've stolen!

But back to the main subject at hand.

In 2011 I posted the following as it seemed as relevant to Sasquatch as it did to UK non native cats.

On Gathering Hard Evidence Of Sasquatch


  

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ktOUWvtm0xY/UH50AuzZMKI/AAAAAAABErY/gs5OVb_brqc/s1600/snelgrovelake.jpg

Wild living creatures are not going to be fooled by some hide or even people using "scent hide" sprays.  The 'charge' seems almost similar to some Sasquatch approaches to tents -they know someone is inside and it might well just be a "brushing against the tent" to us but to Sasquatch it could mean "Hey -I'm out here.  My area."

If we accept that Sasquatch exists then we have to accept that it has spent many thousands of years adapting to its environment and being able to know when something is "off" in its habitat.  We have stories of bow-hunters covered from head to toe with camouflage in elevated seats that Sasquatch approach and even sniff out. There are even cases of Sasquatch turning to look at 'hidden' hunters.

I think those looking for Sasquatch need to change their mindsets. Do not hide your scent.  Let any Sasquatch become familiar with it and take it from there.

 If camping in a known Sasquatch area and if it is believed one is active at the time then a trail cam or two could be set up around the camp.  Putting out bait such as fish, meat or fruit is probably not a good idea if you are in a flimsy tent and in bear country. Note also that bears seem attracted to the petroleum in the plastic casing and have been known to smash trail-cams by tooth and claw. This is rather like bears being attracted to the formaldehyde in refrigerators because it smells ant-nest like.
In a cabin somewhere it might work.  For one thing a cabin would be fairly secure from bear attack and, in the past, have been fairly good protection in what have been called Sasquatch ‘attacks’.  These attacks may be the Sasquatch asserting its territory and making it clear that it owns this particular area.

Snelgrove Lake and the cabin located there seems to be one such case.  Stone throwing, pounding on the cabin exterior and even, when no one is there, breaking in and trashing the interior. This raises several possible avenues for investigation and research.

Firstly, of course, there is the idea of hiring the cabin for a year and record and monitor any possible Sasquatch activity.  A good plan of action for a year would be needed, though it should be adaptable.

Secondly, there is evidence gathering with no cabin base but outside of fishing season so that humans cannot mess evidence up.  In 2002 I was asked by police wildlife crimes officers to draw up some guidelines on gathering evidence of large, non-native cats.  The following is based on these guidelines and though it refers to large cats it can be applied to Sasquatch.
 
    
For over thirty years, since the sightings of puma (Puma concolor) in the Scottish Highlands and also Wales which first got me involved in acting as a Police Adviser on exotic animals, there has been a problem regarding collecting evidence. 

 Firstly, there are many people who set themselves up as “Big cat investigators”.  Most of these people do not even have the basic knowledge of a naturalist let alone the knowledge required to assess sightings of large felids.  Many cases over the years have resulted in what has been claimed to be “irrefutable proof –hard evidence” of what has been termed the “UK Big Cat”.  Newspaper photographs of plaster casts of paw-prints said to have come from such animals have invariably shown claws and tell-tale features of canid tracks.   

  It should be noted that there are good photographs of casts showing details of large felid tracks.
  
However, these pieces of “evidence” are treated as belonging to the alleged investigator.  Many such pieces of evidence are unbelievably destroyed once the person jumps onto another subject –I am aware of two cases in which good large felid track plaster casts were dumped in waste bins along with incident reports simply because the person involved had lost interest but was not going to give his “hard work to someone else”.  Also, maps, photographs, plaster casts and much documentation has been destroyed by the families of investigators after their deaths as “just hobby junk”.

Since the mid-1990s, many people have jumped from investigating unidentified flying objects (UFOs) to delving into the paranormal.  When those subjects prove boring these individuals suddenly find a new interest in “UK Big Cats” –it tends to get them into the newspapers and even onto local television more because it is not so fantastical as, say, UFOs.  “Cryptozoology” is the current new craze.

I have spoken to these people quite often and it is amazing just how little they know and several even noted that they were looking into why “Big Cats” were not seen in the Winter and had a theory that they might hibernate!

But even those slightly more credible individuals were unwilling to supply casts or photographic evidence pertaining to exotic felids.  The same attitude applied: it was “their” evidence.

There were, up until 1998, some thirty plaster casts of tracks held by private individuals that were quite clearly diagnostic of exotic felid ranging from lynx (Lynx sp.), puma (Puma concolor) and leopard (Panthera pardus).   These have all been clearly shown in press photographs.  Such casts would provide good, solid evidence of exotic felids but even the offer to buy some of these casts has been turned down.  Others have vanished along with the no-longer-interested investigators.


http://alamas.ru/images/BF02.jpg 
 Above: nailed board found outside cabin at5 Snellgrove Lake.

Hair samples have also been shown in photographs, as have alleged scat – shockingly, mainly held in un-gloved hands and with the holders face close enough to taint any possible results that might exist.  Other samples shown in plastic bags are often removed to show TV or press cameras.  
Some samples held for ten years or more would be pointless to attempt DNA analysis on. 

The reason why these samples have not been forwarded to a laboratory is purely cost.  Fresh samples analysed by two labs pertaining to a felid sighted in Lincolnshire did return Panthera pardus DNA but this has only ever been publicised at a local level. That said, the photograph of the alleged ‘big cat’ taken on another occasion is of nothing more than a black domestic cat thus proving why all evidence must be clearly checked because, despite a very good description of a leopard seen at zero feet (just over 3 feet/90cms) from the observer the photograph taken was of a black cat seen from a distance –no one was interested in setting up cameras and leaving them in situ.  So called ‘investigators’ with but also without permission of the property holders camped out in tents and one police officer told me “It was like a mini Glastonbury at times –there was even music from radios!” and, naturally, a reclusive cat is going to be attracted to that!

Photographs or video footage of felids can tend to suffer from distance between camera and felid or, more often, suffer from the fact that there is nothing to compare the size of the cat photographed/filmed to.  A couple of pieces of video footage do contain such items so we know the cats filmed were large.  In one video clip the cats can be quite clearly seen and there are enough items in the clip (as well as some recorded on video later) to estimate size accurately –as in the Jagouarondi footage from Surrey.

Of course there are photographs of livestock kills that bear all the characteristics of large felid attacks.  In some cases it has been possible to photographs wounds on horses and ponies (such as “Bianca” at XXXXXXXXX farm) and measure and match said wounds to large felid dentition.  Many farmers have offered to keep sheep or other animals killed by what they claim are large cats so that proper post mortem may be carried out to ascertain the truth.  Sadly, cost and transportation of such animals to a veterinarian willing to carry out this work has been a major stumbling block.

Work has also been carried out by a university on dentition marks on carcass bones that clearly show a large felid was involved.

There has been enough evidence over more than thirty years to conclusively prove the existence of specific exotic cat species in the UK.  It is, sadly, of no use after so long and with so many “Big Cat investigators” involved in in-fighting.

What is needed is a concerted effort to not only film/photograph exotic felids but to gather hard evidence that can be studied and from which DNA evidence can be obtained.

Plan Of Action

Over the years certain areas have become known large felid “hot spots”.

Certain farms are frequently visited, have livestock killed by or just passed through by large felids.  Farmers and locals have been more than willing to have investigators keep observation of these areas.  The problem is that felids have not just good hearing and sense of smell but seem able to, via instinct, know when something is different or that people are nearby.  These animals live and survive on their instincts and are never going to show themselves out in the open.

We have enough evidence in the form of reports from observers and enough has been done to establish geographical territories and note prey animals.  This needs to be backed up by hard evidence.  Hard evidence that it might be possible to gather from known areas frequented by these felid.

    MAP 1 shows a rough idea of ‘Corryn Gwall Farm’ which allows us to show how evidence might be gathered


  
Farms tend to be somewhat more cluttered than this diagram shows but it does represent a number of known, regularly frequented farms.  It is necessary to maximize the number of ways in which to gather evidence, as shown in the next diagram.









A-G indicate locations for camera traps able to take daytime/night time images.  As these are usually fastened to posts or other objects it is possible to move them should it seem one particular route is used more often than others.  The beauty of these cameras is that their use is quite flexible.

A  is fastened onto a tree looking up a rough track approaching the farm.  This is a track that other wildlife may use as animals tend to use “game trails” rather than trudge over or around obstacles in wooded areas.  This camera would need to be focussed at a point where a marker post has been left indicating various heights (30 cms, 60 cms and 90 cms) so that any animal photographed can have its size accurately assessed. 

B would be focussed on the same track but pointing down the track so that an image of any animal can be captured as it heads toward the farm.  Again, a height gauge post would be placed on the track.

C is, of course, dependent upon whether there is a convenient pond from which wildlife might drink.   Damp mud could also provide spots from which tracks might be cast.  It is always worth considering placing a drinking point if no pond exists and to make sure the ground around it is always wet.  However, this is all dependent upon the property owner.

D would be positioned at the front of the house looking up any entrance/approach road.  Large felids have been reported entering/leaving farm courtyards by the main entrance.  It would also show where a felid might be heading so that a camera trap can be moved to that area.

E camera could be trained on the pond/water source and any wall leading to it.

F could be angled to take photographs of anything approaching/getting over a back wall or fence.  There are a large number of reports in which felids have jumped up onto  a wall and remained there for several seconds to one minute, looking around.

G This should be fastened to a tree or post pointed in the direction of any livestock that is reportedly attacked frequently.

All of these cameras must have a height gauge post in shot but, as noted, all are flexible in where they can be placed.

In the diagram a short hurdle has been placed across the rough track.  Something around 50-60 cms in height ought to suffice.  The idea is that deer or other animals can walk over or get under the hurdle but that a felid moving over it might leave hair samples behind.  There are a number of ways in which such hair can be caught.  The idea of placing a string of barbed wire across the top is ruled out as there is no wish to injure any animals.

Favoured methods are:[1] “roughed up” wood that can snag hair, and,[2] double sided tape.  Obviously, the obstacle would need to be checked each morning and any hair collected and placed in a sealed plastic bag.

The double-sided tape hair snag would also work on a fence or at strategic points along a wall.  Again, this would need checking each morning. So that there is no question as to where hair has been found it is important that, before removal, it is photographed in situ.  Sterile gloves must be worn and any sample placed in a sealable plastic bag marked with date/time collected as well as location taken from.  

The same applies to any unidentified droppings found.  Farmers and others living in the country tend to know what a fox, deer or badger dropping looks like but it should be a case of “unsure –secure” and a sample collected and bagged as per hair samples.  In addition to this it might be worth placing a marker where the dropping was found for future reference and to see whether droppings are deposited there regularly.

 The importance of photographing any trace evidence before bagging cannot be over-emphasised.

When it comes to tracks the person checking each day or who lives on the property should be given a guide to tracks of deer, rabbit, badgers, foxes, dogs and felids so that they can eliminate non-felid.

The idea of a sand-trap located on the property should be looked at.  A 90 cms x 90 cms area covered with 3-4 cms of sand (or substitute material) might solicit tracks so that it can be assessed what is visiting the property.   

It must be made perfectly clear that even with all of the above it is not a case of evidence of any type being obtained within a few days or even weeks.  We know that certain felids wander their territory so even when they return it is no guarantee that evidence will be obtained.  It might take a year but the chances are improved if the owner of the property has seen the felid or has noted where it seems to go to/come from as they do seem to be creatures of habit at times.

The cost of game trail cameras and DNA analysis are the big drawbacks unless a backer can be found.

 I think that regular trail-cams can be used but, in the case of Sasquatch, need to be placed higher up a tree (so bears cannot get to them) and angled.  Any number of trail-cams are available but even though they can take a large number of photographs the batteries will die and once the card is full that is it –just after that last image is taken Sasquatch could walk right in front the camera, sit down and peel a grape!  So, every week or so the batteries will need checking and the card replaced.  This adds more human contamination/smell to the area.

I believe that the best way forward are cameras such as the Raptor Cellular camera system that will capture a photograph and email it to you via a cellular network upon motion-activation.  The built-in camera will capture colour photographs during the day and via a no-flash Infra Red mode at night. All photos are stored on the included UBS Flash Drive and the battery operated system can last several months in a remote location –I’ve heard of several adaptions of these devices to solar energy where a solar panel is placed high in a tree meaning that you can get endless image feed.


With cameras, hair traps and so on, enough evidence can be gathered to satisfy most scientific minds without the need to kill – though some claiming to be “scientists” have stated publicly that “nothing” will convince them and a couple have stated that even a body “does not mean there is a population.”

There is another question that needs to be addressed.  Whether to go armed when looking for Sasquatch?  We know nothing about these creatures but if they are similar to gorillas then the chasing/charging at those who encounter them could just be juvenile status posturing.  Gorillas will try to sort out disputes amongst their group without violence if they can.

However, we have seen via the work of Steenburg, et al, that females have been encountered as well as possible family groups.  If Sasquatch have learnt anything from observing hunters it is that they kill wildlife.  Humans thusly equal a possible threat to young or females.  Any creature that can kill large wild hogs and deer with its bare hands is a potential danger to humans if encountered in the wrong situation or if the human involved breaches some territorial taboo.

Remember that the Sasquatch hunter is going to be out in sometimes mountainous or hilly forestry making a fast exit impossible. If cornered by a Sasquatch and the animal does not back off what options are left?  I do not advocate immediately shooting any Sasquatch because of “false charging” but I do think that there is some form of protection –after all, Sasquatch seem to have bears in their territories and if you attract an aggressive bear to you…

The whole point is, however, to gather as much physical evidence as possible –there is no such thing as “too much evidence”!

Today we see on TV, Swamp Monsters, Mountain Monsters (along with many paranormal programmes) where it does not take 15 minutes to realise they are faked and for fun -"This program is intended for entertainment purposes only" says it all.  But why do former credible TV stations such as Discovery and History offer up so many fake programmes?
The answer is simple.  Finding Bigfoot has gone on for many years.  They have yet to find Sasquatch and when you find the Bigfoot Research Organisation leader, Matt Moneymaker has had to have harsh words with producers over "dubious practices" you ask "if they did film something would we believe it?" 
Ditto Monster Quest -highly sensationalistic with "killer" this and "deadly" that added to "rampaging", "out of control" and "potentially lethal to humans" you get the point.  Yes, some good footage of very large -unidentified- squid but that's it.
TV execs want people to watch their programming -its what makes the money.  So it's easier to make the faked ones "listen -a disembodied voice!"/ "Was something just thrown?" and even (Mountain Monsters) some of the worst fakery of creatures and so on you can find.   Because people can laugh or -sadly- believe because they are seeing something not just a search turning up nothing.

With everything going on at Snellgrove was it really going to be that hard to set up cameras around the cabin often the focus of these visits?  You can have solar powered/sat-link up cameras so that you do not have to be there.  Or even rent the cabin and set up the cameras for several months.  Think about it: a film or TV company might spare a few surveillance or even game trail games added into the mix.  A few thousand dollars -but getting footage or still photographs of a genuine Sasquatch would net -appealing to greed here- millions in licensing, exclusives and so on.

But it's cheaper to make fake programmes.  

For a good and valid project you need a backer with money and an interest in the subject.


 

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