Monday, October 24, 2011

Kemerovo Gov Offers 30K Reward for Finding Siberian Yeti

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to report on the economy/financial side of Bigfoot news. The actual reward is 1 million rubles, which is roughly equal to over $31,000. Below, is a great article with a companion video embedded below.

We should mention that the Governor offers to have Tea with the Yeti. This is not the first time he has offered 1 million rubels and a tea party with the Yeti. The governor said the same thing last year in our post, "Tea party with the Yeti?"

And don't miss our previous Kemerovo Siberian Yeti coverage. We covered most of the main stream stuff, plus some exclusives to Bigfoot Lunch Club.

Bigfoot Hunters Detect Signs of the Hairy Beast in Siberia
Officials Host Conference, Offer Reward; 'We Need to Sit Down With Him, Drink Some Tea'

October 25th 2011

TASHTAGOL, Russia—Stooping to the damp floor of a darkened cave, Anatoly Fokin picked some thin filaments from a muddy footprint. "I found some hair, some real hair," he said, pulling the strands apart. "And here there are more—maybe it was a girl."

Mr. Fokin crept further into the chill, followed by a horde of television crews and photographers. Cameras illuminated more footprints and a bed of dried brush in a recess of the cavern. "This is unusual and good evidence," said Mr. Fokin, who dropped his full-time work as an architect to spend more time on hunts like this one. "A Yeti has been here."

Throughout the world, lore persists about wild hairy creatures walking upright through woods. In the U.S. they are called Bigfoot and Sasquatch, in Russia the Snow Person and Forest Creature. Tibet spawned the names Yeti and Abominable Snowman.

Dismissed as myth by scientists, Yetis are mainly the province of enthusiasts, and in Russia they've gotten an unexpected boost from the government. Siberian officials this month sponsored nature lovers, scientists and foreigners who claim they have socialized with Bigfoots to attend an International Scientific-Practical Conference on Hominology.

Hominology, a still-unrecognized branch of biology that studies hairy upright walking creatures, is championed by a handful of Russian devotees who hope to spark a revolution in evolutionary theory by contacting one of the many tribes of Bigfoots they say are living undetected in woods around the world, including in North America and Russia.

With government help, that day may be drawing near. Siberian officials issued a press release saying the three-day event this month turned up "irrefutable evidence" that such a creature—known to locals as a Snow Person—has been squatting in a Kemerovo cave 2,000 miles east of Moscow. Field trips into the surrounding mountains also turned up what they said were telltale signs of Yeti wanderings, such as bent and twisted branches, and underbrush that served as a bed.

Local officials say they will now make efforts to contact the beast, who hasn't yet been photographed. They will also begin funding a permanent center for Bigfoot research at Siberia's Kemerovo State University.

Kemerovo Gov. Aman Tuleyev is offering a one million ruble, or about $31,500, reward to anyone who finds a Yeti, telling Russian television, "We need to sit down with him, drink some tea and talk about life." Russian heavyweight boxing champion Nikolai Valuyev, who at nearly 7 feet tall is known as the "Beast from the East," made a foray into the woods last month to look for the creature, but came out saying he only found broken branches and footprints.

Officials say they would also like to drum up some tourism for Kemerovo, a poverty-stricken region known more for its coal mine accidents than alpine beauty. But Vladimir Makuta, the top official of Tashtagol, says he is a genuine believer in "a kind of forest spirit" who has been aiding and undermining hunters in the woods.

The very existence of a Yeti is looked upon askance by mainstream scientists, who say all the upright-walking mammals have long ago been discovered and categorized.

They dismiss evidence compiled by Yeti hunters as a mass of unverified sightings, fuzzy photographs and film clips, and footprints that have been planted by hucksters.

Lately, Bigfoot sightings have been on the rise in the U.S. Once confined to the Pacific Northwest and Appalachia, today they have spread as far as Texas, Florida and New England, says Brian Regal, a Bigfoot debunker and assistant professor of history of science at Kean University in New Jersey.

"Meeting Bigfoot has become the encounter du jour," says Mr. Regal, a native of New Jersey. "You can't spit over here without someone saying there's a monster living in the woods."

That has also made Bigfoot searching a growing business, in the same way UFO-ology became a trade since the 1950s, Mr. Regal says. Today the Internet hosts a range of websites devoted to Bigfoot happenings, while tour guides offer excursions in search of the creature.

Russia's own Bigfoot industry has been a laggard. An early enthusiast was Soviet historian Boris Porshnev, who believed Bigfoots in Russia were a relict strain of leftover Neanderthals or cavemen.

With government funding, Mr. Porshnev launched a Soviet Snowperson Commission that after 1958 trudged through the Pamir Mountains of modern-day Tajikistan and the Caucasus region. The group turned up no snowmen, only alleged footprints whose outlines they cast in plaster.

"They were addicted to this subject in the 1950s and 1960s and blew through a whole program," says Oleg Pugachuyov, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Zoological Institute in St. Petersburg. "They never found any real evidence. It was a myth."

But former colleagues of the late Mr. Porshnev still hold a candle for him, along with a collection of plaster casts at the International Center of Hominology in Moscow. Igor Burtsev, the center's director, says that with government support he is hoping he can establish synergy with Yeti hunters in the U.S., whom he visited last year and who "are far ahead of Russia in research."

Mr. Burtsev has visited conferences and gone on hunts in the U.S., staying for a week in rural Michigan, where Robin Lynne, 48, says she has been feeding a family of Bigfoots outside her home for two years.

Hosted by the regional government, Ms. Lynne flew to Siberia for the conference this month, where a tour bus with police escort drove participants to a hunting lodge in the piney outback. There, Ms. Lynne described how the Bigfoots bang on her door, bring her sticks as presents and drink water from a bucket in the yard when the weather is warm. "They love the bucket," she told the group.

Also attending was Jeff Meldrum, an associate professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University.

Mr. Meldrum, who believes Bigfoot may exist, says he favors a "scientific approach" to the subject.

During the trip to the cave, he worried that the footprints they found were only for a right foot, none from a left. They also seemed to be stamped too perfectly, he said.

"I'd like to see progress," he said. "But some of this makes me suspicious."

SRC: The Wall Street Journal, page A1

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