Friday, October 22, 2010

Thom Powell Week: Seven Tentative Conclusions

This week we celebrate Thom Powell, the contemporary researcher and author of the Bigfoot research book, "The Locals". On November 3rd he will be speaking at an event sponsored by the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium and University of Oregon. There are rumors he will provide a peak of his new book, "Shady Neighbors"

Almost a decade ago Thom Powell was part of the first "Wireless Wilderness" Project with BFRO. It was an two-year endeavor to obtain photo and video images of Sasquatches using a remote monitoring system. Below is a short excerpt from Thom's article about the project, including a list of 7 tentative conclusions based on that project.

As this first monitoring project concludes, I will share these seven tentative conclusions. Like sasquatch research in general, nothing here is provable. In the absence of hard data, one can only observe subtle changes in the landscape and look for patterns in those changes, and then try to make inferences as to why this might occur based on our knowledge of animal behavior in general. It need not be said but the conclusions below are completely my own, and not necessarily shared by my BFRO colleagues. If any of these hunches are correct, then they should fit with observations and patterns being witnessed by other observers at other active sites. I am sharing these tentative conclusions in the hope that we will receive feedback on them from other bigfoot researchers or rural residents who periodically witness bigfoot activity:

Bigfoots seem to choose certain homesteads to frequent based on things like the available sources of food, and maybe even more subtle matters like a ‘live-and-let-live’ spirit of animal accommodation displayed by some rural residents. A&A’s place earns high marks on both counts. They raise many types of livestock, and they have a compassion for animals that is evident through their behavior and the caged animals in various stages of rehabilitation on their property. It is easy for me to accept that bigfoots have the capacity to identify people who display compassion for animals because I have seen indications of this at other rural locations where bigfoot activity was suspected. I also understand that such suggestions are pretty far-fetched. Gathering hard data on extremely rare events like bigfoot sightings is virtually impossible. Gathering data on even rarer and more obscure matters like behavioral preferences or characteristics is beyond the current realm of science. All we can do when it comes to answering such questions is to look for patterns and make educated guesses based on very limited data. It’s not very scientific, but it is the best we can do for now.

Bigfoots consciously and effectively avoid most human contact. In general, they don’t want to be seen or found by people. The more you try and stalk them, the more they retreat and hide until you leave. Trying to stalk bigfoots is not just futile, it may be counterproductive. They likely observe people in the woods. If someone is seen to be searching for footprints and casting them in plaster, they may strive to avoid leaving any more easily identified footprints. This suggests that if you want to see a sasquatch, try not to be too obvious about looking for one. Best to go to the woods with another purpose in mind, whether it is mushroom picking, meditating, playing music, or painting nature scenes. Then keep your eyes open and your ears attuned. Guns and other visible weapons are anathema.

Bigfoots are very smart and very shy. They modify their behavior in response to our behavior. The more you try to trick them, the trickier they become in avoiding your tricks and traps. So, if you are trying to get a bigfoot on camera, make sure that your first attempt is your best attempt. Once you flash a bulb or aim a video camera at them, you will never get another chance with the same group of bigfoots. Whether they understand it is a camera or not is a point of considerable debate. Regardless, they have an aversion to things being pointed at them, particularly things that look like weapons or big eyes.

Remotely monitored video systems seem promising for getting a sasquatch on film, but they are still crude and heavily reliant on luck. Based on our experience at A&A’s, getting lucky probably means catching a less cautious and more curious juvenile that carelessly wanders in front of the camera. At our experiment site we thought we were seeing evidence that the juvenile was sometimes far away from any supervising adult. One possible reason for bigfoots blocking trails could be as a reminder to juveniles not to wander too close to suspicious items like the cameras that we had placed in their woods.

The only photographic evidence we are likely to get from mounted video cameras would be fleeting images that are lacking in detail, and therefore inconclusive. On the other hand, the only photographic evidence that could have any real scientific merit must be close-range, extended video or film footage. This seems unlikely to happen with stationary remote monitoring equipment. A more promising approach that has not been tried to my knowledge would be to first habituate a family group over a period of years. Only after the bigfoots are completely comfortable with the researcher’s presence should a camera be deployed. Even then, it would be necessary to avoid big lenses and obvious cameras. I would suggest wearing a hands-free, button-sized miniature camera that is recording images on a belt-mounted digital recorder.

Habituating not just one, but a group of sasquatches to human presence is a critical step. Bigfoots are not necessarily solitary by nature. Even when it appears that there is only one around, there may well be a family group that keeps very much out of sight. (which may well occur more often than is commonly believed) Gaining their trust takes an amount of time that is measured in years, not months. Based on sighting report patterns, children and human females, being more inherently vulnerable, seem to be trusted by bigfoots much more readily than human males.

Forget about proving they exist by shooting one with a gun. There are practical problems of caliber and shot-placement that make the chances of success improbable in the extreme. Beyond that, you just can’t get close enough to one to shoot it. Unless you have habituated it to your presence, it will take years to overcome their distrust of humans. If gaining their trust were actually accomplished, empathy for the creatures on your part would be so great that betraying them with a gun would feel like murdering a relative. If you doubt this, it is only from a position of no particular experience. Even if someone did succeed in killing one, it is highly doubtful that this bigfoot executioner could avoid the swift and lethal retribution from the rest of the family group. This is why, when people ask me what to do if they did manage to shoot a bigfoot, my answer is, “Reload.” If obtaining a carcass is your goal, chances are it will be a road kill or other accidental mortality, not a hunting mortality.

We recommend reading the entire post on the BFRO site as it goes into greater details regarding the methods used during this project.

November 3rd Event
Thom Powell Week: To true believers, Bigfoot lives
Thom Powell Week: The Contemporary Researcher
Thom Powell Week: Peer Review
Shady Neighbors Book Cover
Thom Powell Week: On the heels of PG film Anniversary
Thom Powell Week: Oregonian Guest Columnist

Original Oregonian Article
Thom Powell's book the Locals
Cliff Barackman talks about the Chehalis Project, investigated by Thom Powell

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your 7 conclusions on bigfoot/sasquatch behavior. They are very well thought out. I agree with all your thoughts and enjoyed them. The only slight variation I would make that I am 100% sure about in my area the are eating the livestock. Sheep, pigs, horses and cattle are on the menu. In many rural areas there is an uneasy truce and allot of misindentifaction of kills. Bears get blamed far to much. I was told by others they are nomadic, but they really are not based on my research as well. It may appears so because there home range is massive, but they always come back in my experience. You don't mark it unless your claiming it. And you are right. Their stealth surpasses our by light years and their intelligence in the ways of the woods does as well. Keep the good stuff coming. I enjoyed your article allot. Michael Johnson-Co founder -SIR


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