Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bigfoot Documentary by the Best Bigfoot Field Reporter™

Our friend Sharon Lee showing her love for Bigfoot
Sharon Lee runs The Bigfoot Field Reporter. Sharon's site has the distinction of her actually traveling to many of the events she covers. Something us armchair bloggers respect and appreciate (as we should). We have vicariously been to so many Bigfoot happenings through her site. She wants to take what she does best a step further, she wants to do a single trip around the country and document it. We want to help her and hope you do too. You can pledge as little as $5 (every bit counts) to help fund this well-planned documentary. To pledge you can go to the Kickstarter page, Squatching U.S.A.

Below is Sharon's passionate reason for the journey:
I have worked at Cleveland State University 12 years for the benefit of having my 3 love of my life daughters attend for free.  I have lived my entire life for them and now that they are grown, I want to live my life for me!
On July 1st I am going to load up my Jeep with camping gear and clothes, my laptop and cell phone and I am going to begin a cross country journey to research Bigfoot, but mostly to document me meeting all of the Bigfoot enthusiasts I have met through Facebook.
This is a map of the 6,900 mile trip, it starts at Cross Fork, PA and ends in Jefferson, TX. Hitting at least 10 cities in between. To pledge you can go to the Kickstarter page, Squatching U.S.A.

View Larger Map

I don't know why your still here you should be at the kickstarter pledging for the trip. She only needs $5000 which is a very modest amount, you can pledge as little as $5. Every little bit helps. Bigfoot Lunch Club fans don't let us down, so far we have helped fund two other Kickstarter campaigns, let's get this one funded too! To pledge you can go to the Kickstarter page, Squatching U.S.A.

Watch Sharon's video below.

Every donation helps we have about fifteen more days to get this project launched and funded. To pledge you can go to the Kickstarter page, Squatching U.S.A.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

British Journalist continues to bring us Yeti news from Russia

Illustration of a Shurale, a creature of similar description to the Yeti
"From 1960 to 1980, evidence grew up there of large red-haired ape-men, sometimes in family groups, being encountered by the locals." -- Edward Crabtree of The Kazan Herald

Based in Russia, The Kazan Herald is Tatarstan’s first and only English-language newspaper. Founded in May 2010, the newspaper is a trusted source of objective coverage and quality analysis of news, business, arts, opinion, sports, and tourism in Kazan and Tatarstan.

Fortunately for us, they have a British journalist, Edward Crabtree, who lives in Kazan and is very interested in the Yeti legends and relic hominid research.

You may remember Crabtree from his previous posts earlier this year, Shurale — A Tatar Yeti? and Russian Snowman (Yeti) Riddle Continues.

In his third article for The Kazan Herald he describes a story, translated for the first time, of a group of red-haired ape-men visiting a village in western Russia for over two decades

Why I’ll Keep Watching the Woods

By Edward Crabtree28 May 2012

Since I first waded into the controversy surrounding the presence (or absence), of unclassified man-like apes within the Russian Federation, some promising new leads have emerged in the field.

Algorithm, a Moscow Publishing house, have recently released a collection of writings by the late Soviet yeti hunter Boris Porshnyev (for more on him, see “The Russian Snowman Riddle Continues”). Entitled “The Enigma of the Snowmen: Contemporary Questions of Relict Hominids,” it is something of a weighty tome – all of it of course in Russian. My guess is that it contains much information which is likely to remain untranslated for Westerners for some time to come.

What I have been able to get translated, however, is a news story in a weekly magazine devoted to the mysterious (N.L.O – Unbelievable Legendary Evidence, March 12 no.5).The headline is “The Yeti of Malaya Vishyeva.” This eerie piece focuses on Novgorod Oblast in North-western Russia. Malaya Vishyeva is a sparsely populated village which is to this day hard to access being surrounded by marshland and dense forest. From1960 to 1980, evidence grew up there of large red-haired ape-men, sometimes in family groups, being encountered by the locals. Then in 2003 some footprints were found there. This spurred on the snowman advocate and St Petersburg academic Valentin Sapunov to do a field study of this region (his articles on the subject can be viewed here). There he came across apparent teeth marks in trees which were too far above ground level to be made by known animals.

The article relates of how there had been a tradition of “white eyed wonders” supposedly dwelling in the forests of that area, as told by the Finno-Ugric tribes that lived in the region up to the 6th Century. Indeed, whilst the concept “snyeshni chyelovek,” or snowman, first originated in a Russian newspaper in 1908, Russian folk culture has long been choc-a-bloc with wood goblin myths, from the Vors of the Komi people to the Pitsen of the Bashkirs. Our local equivalent in Tatarstan is “Shurale,” the semi-malevolent forest ghost who emerges in the twilight hours of spring and summer. The fact that he has been immortalised by a poem by Gabdulla Tukay and ballet can make us forget that he is often a frightening figure in Tatar stories. So, is the modern yeti just a reframing of an age-old bogeyman?

To answer this question we have to go far back in time. The first written report of an Asian wild-man was made in 1430. It is in the memoirs of a German nobleman who had no previous knowledge of the relevant folklore and, obviously, lived long before the yeti was the mass media icon that it now is. Hans Schiltenberger, travelling through Mongolia, was captured by the Mongols of the Golden Horde. From them he learnt of wild men who lived in the mountains and who “had nothing in common with ordinary human beings.” So perhaps, after all, these forest demons conceal an embellished memory of an anthropological fact.

There is, nevertheless, a legion of naysayers who will not admit of any stories or eyewitness claims as being of any value as evidence. “Find me a body of one of these monkey-men,” they say. “Then I’ll take you seriously.” A handy riposte to this can be found in this April’s issue of the Russian paranormal magazine, “Twentieth Century Secrets” in an article entitled “Is the Yeti From Another Dimension?” Those not quite ready to invoke fairyland to explain away the missing bodies can gain succour from the history of the classification of the Giant Panda. The West first learnt of this legendary creature’s existence in 1869, but the first Westerner to see a live one did so in 1906. It was not until 1936 that Ruth Harkness first took the first live panda back to the West. So, from a Western point of view, there was over a 70-year hiatus before the discovery of this large animal and its eventual capture. Bigfoot and Yeti research, on the other hand, has only been in existence for less than sixty years.

In the meantime, while a full-scale body may not have been produced, there has indeed been some other flesh-and-blood evidence which, whilst less sensational, cannot be lightly brushed aside. In 2009, the American television adventurer Joshua Gates returned from Nepal and Bhutan with some hairs from a suspected Yeti. These were duly forensically probed by a respected DNA testing laboratory called Diagnostics Inc. in Texas. The results? The hairs showed up as belonging to an “unknown sequence” which was close to human, but not human as we know it….

At this point the sceptics sit back and recite a list of Scooby-Doo style frauds and set ups as long as a yeti’s arm. These do indeed muddy the waters. Only last December we were greeted by the too-good-to-be true news from the Ingushetia Republic in the Russian Federation: a live snowman had been captured! The television interviews which followed seemed to be tongue-in-cheek and it did not take long for most to become aware that this was a money raising stunt. Perhaps the fact that any money made was to go towards a local orphanage mitigated things a bit, but this sort of superciliousness is not that uncommon and confines yeti news to the tabloid press.

It is at this point that I am reminded of a quotation from Arthur C. Clarke, the British science fiction writer. Clarke was a connoisseur of the unexplained, but also a scientist. Speaking on the Loch Ness Monster, that legendary creature from my own country, he said: “On Tuesdays and Thursdays I believe in the Loch Ness Monster.” He was hedging his bets then, but, as any gambler can tell you, two out of seven is not such bad odds.


Benjamin Radford Goes Beyond Bigfoot Prints and DNA

Benjamin Radford, Editor of the Skeptical Inquirer
"The most compelling evidence for Bigfoot would be DNA analyses, since they are scientific and theoretically definitive." --Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Enquirer

Benjamin Radford is deputy editor of the science magazine Skeptical Inquirer. He also co-hosts, with Karen Stollznow, Skeptic magazine's audio podcast MonsterTalk, which critically examines the science behind cryptozoological (and legendary) creatures, such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and werewolves.

You may remember him from earlier posts such as, Top 10 Reasons Bigfoot is Bunk, Bigfoot Cousins Claimed in Many Countries, and most recently,  If You Spot Bigfoot, Should You Shoot Him? He is a skeptic, and one of the more fair-minded ones. As most of you know the term skeptic, does not mean "non-believer," Some skeptics would even put themselves in the "Bigfoot Hopeful" category. 

Last Saturday Radford reminds us that, although the Oxford University Study is making news, trying to retrieve DNA evidence is nothing new.

Read his reminder below with a vote of hopefulness in the end.


Analysis by Benjamin Radford 
Sat May 26, 2012 08:46 AM ET 

Last week researchers from Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology announced that they are seeking genetic materials (such as hair, skin, and blood samples) claimed to be of unknown animals such as Bigfoot. The goal of the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project is to catalogue and identify new species, including those long believed to be mythical.

Despite the publicity that the new project is garnering, this is far from the first time that alleged Bigfoot samples have been subjected to scientific testing.

NEWS: New Bigfoot Sightings: Proof Still Lacking

In 2008, for example, the TV show "Destination Truth" recovered what was claimed to be a hair of a Yeti (formerly known as the Abominable Snowman). An analysis reportedly came back indicating that the sample contained "an unknown DNA sequence," though the full report was not made public and the results were never published in a journal -- as would be expected with a legitimate scientific discovery.

Then there was the strange case of a finger long claimed to be from a Yeti, once held in a monastery in Nepal which was examined by researchers at the Edinburgh Zoo last year. DNA testing solved the decades-old mystery and debunked the Yeti finger; it was actually human, probably from a monk.

For over a year Bigfoot buffs have followed the saga of Dr. Melba Ketchum, a veterinarian who claims to have definitive evidence of Bigfoot DNA. Ketchum says that her research will be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal any time now, and has released virtually no information about her allegedly world-shaking findings, reminding those who question her that "until it is published, I cannot discuss our data at all."

Last week in a May 18 Facebook post, Ketchum once again promised that definitive Bigfoot DNA results would be published soon, and "that all is well and things are happening as expected."

'Unknown' and 'Unidentified'

The most compelling evidence for Bigfoot would be DNA analyses, since they are scientific and theoretically definitive. However answers are not always possible; "unknown" or "unidentified" results do not mean "Bigfoot."

There are many reasons why a given hair or DNA sample might come back unknown, including that it was contaminated or too degraded by environmental conditions. Or it could simply mean that the animal it came from was not among the reference samples that the laboratory used for comparison. We have no reference sample of Bigfoot DNA to compare it to, so by definition there cannot be a "conclusive match."

NEWS: Bigfoot and Yeti DNA Study Gets Serious

In his book Big Footprints (Johnson Books, 1992), veteran researcher Grover Krantz discussed alleged Bigfoot hair, feces, skin scrapings, and blood: "The usual fate of these items is that they either receive no scientific study, or else the documentation of that study is either lost or unobtainable. In most cases where competent analyses have been made, the material turned out to be bogus or else no determination could be made."

Indeed, twenty years later, the situation remains the same. When a definite conclusion has been reached through scientific analysis, the samples have invariably turned out to have prosaic sources -- "Bigfoot hair" turns out to be elk, bear, or cow hair, for example, or "Bigfoot blood" is revealed to be a car's transmission fluid.

Krantz gave one typical example: "A large amount of what looks like hair has been recovered from several places in the Blue Mountains since 1987. Samples of this were examined by many supposed experts ranging from the FBI to barbers. Most of these called it human, the Redkin Company found significant differences from human hair, but the Japan Hair Medical Science Lab declared it a synthetic fiber.

A scientist at [Washington State] University first called it synthetic, then looked more closely and decided it was real hair of an unknown type... However final confirmation came when E.B. Winn, a pharmaceutical businessman from Switzerland had a sample tested in Europe. The fiber was positively identified as artificial and its exact composition was determined: it is a product known commercially as Dynel, which is often used as imitation hair."

The lesson? Even many of the world's top experts got it wrong; it was not human nor "unknown" but instead a synthetic fiber. Hair testing is far less of an exact science than genetics testing, and the fact that some alleged Bigfoot hairs remain “unidentified” is hardly surprising—and certainly not mysterious.

For decades Bigfoot research has been plagued by false promises of definitive, earthshaking proof of Bigfoot -- most of it creates plenty of publicity and hype but no real results. Hopefully efforts by researchers like the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project and Melba Ketchum will be successful. However they are only the latest in a long line of claimants -- all of whom have all failed so far. Can they back up their claims with solid scientific evidence, or will they join the ignominious legions of hoaxers and sincere-but-deluded researchers?

Time will tell.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mainstream Media News Tour of the Oxford University Bigfoot DNA Genetics Study

Finally Oxford University has something to brag about; Bigfoot genetic research
We are proud to say that we broke this news first--after Jeff Meldrum announced it at the Richland, WA Bigfoot Conference. Technically, that makes us second to break the news, but due to budget constraints we fired our fact-checker (sorry Joe), so we are going with the first version. You read it here first! Dr. Bryan Sykes of Oxford University is conducting a genetic research on Sasquatch Samples.

On May 16th we mentioned Dr. Meldrum's Participation, May 17th we posted a Video of Meldrum talking about his initial meeting with Bryan Sykes, and finally we broke the official news to the world on how to send Bigfoot samples to Oxford University before the mainstream media did.

Some would argue it is hard to brag about scooping mainstream media, when Bigfoot news is your niche, but we actually find it quite easy.

Speaking of mainstream media, we have collected articles from across the globe in a single place, in chronological order (oldest to latest) So you can catch up with what the rest of the world knows about the Oxford University/Bryan Sykes Bigfoot Genetic Research. You'll notice we left out NPR, HuffPost and a few others, that is because they just copied and pasted from Reuters News. But rest assured this news is EVERYWHERE. By the way, our terminated fact-checker called in to tell us C|Net gets it wrong; Dr.Sykes is only interested in Hominid (Bigfoot) samples, he is not interested in Nessie. Great catch Joe, your still fired.
Oxford University to probe 'yeti' DNA
By Duncan Geere May 22, 2012

Supposed yeti remains are being put under the microscope in a collaboration between Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology.

The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project has been created to try and entice people and institutions with collections of cryptozoological material to submit it for analysis. Anyone with a sample of organic remains can submit details of where and when it was collected, among other data.

Once a reasonable database has been collected, the team will select the most interesting samples (hair shafts are particularly desirable, apparently) and ask the owners to submit them for rigorous genetic analysis. The results of these analyses will be published in peer-reviewed journals.

A large number of cultures around the world have variations of the yeti legend, including bigfoot, sasquatch, meh-teh, almasty, migoi and orang pendek. Bryan Sykes from Wolfson College, Oxford, told "Theories as to their species identification vary from surviving collateral hominid species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo floresiensis, to large primates like Gigantopithecus widely thought to be extinct, to as yet unstudied primate species or local subspecies of black and brown bears."

He added: "Mainstream science remains unconvinced by these reports both through lack of testable evidence and the scope for fraudulent claims. However, recent advances in the techniques of genetic analysis of organic remains provide a mechanism for genus and species identification that is unbiased, unambiguous and impervious to falsification. It is possible that a scientific examination of these neglected specimens could tell us more about how Neanderthals and other early hominids interacted and spread around the world."

If you've got a yeti scalp in your shed, and you'd like to submit it for verification, you can find out how to do so over on the project's website.
Scientists Deploy Genetics in Search for Bigfoot
(Reporting by Chris Wickham; Editing by Andrew Heavens) Tue May 22, 2012 10:02am EDT

(Reuters) - Scientists are turning to genetic testing to see if they can prove the existence of the elusive hairy humanoid known across the world as bigfoot, yeti and sasquatch.

A joint project between Oxford University and Switzerland's Lausanne Museum of Zoology will examine organic remains that some say belong to the creature that has been spotted in remote areas for decades.

"It's an area that any serious academic ventures into with a deal of trepidation ... It's full of eccentric and downright misleading reports," said Bryan Sykes at Oxford's Wolfson College.

But the team would take a systematic approach and use the latest advances in genetic testing, he added.

"There have been DNA tests done on alleged yetis and other such things but since then the testing techniques, particularly on hair, have improved a lot due to advances in forensic science," he told Reuters.

Modern testing could get valid results from a fragment of a shaft of hair said Sykes, who is leading the project with Michel Sartori, director of the Lausanne museum.

Ever since a 1951 expedition to Mount Everest returned with photographs of giant footprints in the snow, there has been speculation about giant Himalayan creatures, unknown to science.

There have been eyewitness reports of the "yeti" or "migoi" in the Himalayas, "bigfoot" or "sasquatch" in America, "almasty" in the Caucasus mountains and ‘orang pendek' in Sumatra.

Tests up to now have usually concluded that alleged yeti remains were actually human, he said. But that could have been the result of contamination. "There has been no systematic review of this material."

The project will focus on Lausanne's archive of remains assembled by Bernard Heuvelmans, who investigated reported yeti sightings from 1950 up to his death in 2001.

Other institutions and individuals will also be asked to send in details of any possible yeti material. Samples will be subjected to "rigorous genetic analysis", and the results published in peer-reviewed science journals.

Aside from the yeti question, Sykes said he hoped the project would add to the growing body of knowledge on the interaction between humanity's ancestors.

"In the last two years it has become clear that there was considerable inter-breeding between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals ... about 2 to 4 percent of the DNA of each individual European is Neanderthal," he said.

One hypothesis is that yetis are surviving Neanderthals. The joint project will take DNA samples from areas where there have been alleged sightings to see whether the Neanderthal DNA traces are stronger in the local population.

As for the project's chances of success? "The answer is, of course, I don't know," said Sykes. "It's unlikely but on the other hand if we don't examine it we won't know."
Oxford making scientific search for Yeti, Nessie
by Chris Matyszczyk  May 23, 2012 10:20 AM PDT

There are those who believe that Yetis exist, most especially Georgians.

All too often when these claims are investigated, though, they turn up a gorilla costume and a couple of rogues.

However, someone is finally bringing scientific credibility to the search not only for Yetis, but also the Loch Ness Monster and, for all I know, unicorns.
Oxford University's Wolfson College has decided to invite every human being in the world to send in samples of animals that appear to be something of a mystery.

I am indebted to the Daily Mail for unearthing this massive development in human progress.
The brains at Wolfson College aren't doing this as a little side project. No, they intend the use the very latest in DNA technology to attempt to uncover what they call "cryptids."

You see, the minute you put a fine, ancient-rooted word to Bigfoot, it already sounds more scientific, doesn't it? Cryptids are all those weird, hidden beings whose existence has never been proven and whose legend has grown greater than that of Tom Cruise.

The project is to be run by visiting fellow Bryan Sykes and enjoys the quite luscious name "The Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project."

Sykes is particular looking for hair shafts. In announcing the project on the college site, Sykes explains the history of legitimate Yeti-hunting:

Theories as to their species identification vary from surviving collateral hominid species, such as Homo neanderthalensis or Homo floresiensis, to large primates like Gigantopithecus widely thought to be extinct, to as yet unstudied primate species or local subspecies of black and brown bears.

So he seems utterly convinced that some of these legendary beings might actually be real.

Indeed, he added that this project represents humanity's first attempt to be truly rigorous on the subject:
Recent advances in the techniques of genetic analysis of organic remains provide a mechanism for genus and species identification that is unbiased, unambiguous and impervious to falsification.

Many of you are of a rigorous bent and perhaps consider that you've seen something weird in your neighborhood at least once or twice.

So if you'd like to send a specimen to Sykes and his team, here are where the details of the project are to be found.

It has always been my ambition to write the headline: "Yeti found." Even better, though, would be "Yeti found at Oxford University." Or even: "Yeti Found in Congress."
by Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor | Tue May 22, 2012 02:18 PM ET

A call is out for supposed Big Foot material so university scientists can do genetic testing.


  • Scientists have requested that cryptozoologists send them material supposedly from cryptic species.
  • They plan to conduct genetic analysis of the material.
  • The call is a challenge to those who claim that science simply rejects such claims.

A new university-backed project aims to investigate cryptic species such as the yeti whose existence is unproven, through genetic testing.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Lausanne Museum of Zoology are asking anyone with a collection of cryptozoological material to submit descriptions of it. The researchers will then ask for hair and other samples for genetic identification.

"I'm challenging and inviting the cryptozoologists to come up with the evidence instead of complaining that science is rejecting what they have to say," said geneticist Bryan Sykes of the University of Oxford.

While Sykes doesn't expect to find solid evidence of a yeti or Bigfoot monster, he says he is keeping an open mind and hopes to identify perhaps 20 of the suspect samples. Along the way, he'd be happy if he found some unknown species. (Rumor or Reality: The Creatures of Cryptozoology)

"It would be wonderful if one or more turned out to be species we don't know about, maybe primates, maybe even collateral hominids," Sykes told LiveScience. Such hominids would include Neanderthals or Denosivans, a mysterious hominin species that lived in Siberia 40,000 years ago.

"That would be the optimal outcome," Sykes said.

The project is called the Oxford-Lausanne Collateral Hominid Project. It is being led by Sykes and Michel Sartori of the zoology museum.

Origin of a Legend

The story of a big hairy monster of the Himalayas stomped into popular culture in 1951, when British mountaineer Eric Shipton returned from a Mount Everest expedition with photographs of giant footprints in the snow.

The cryptic creature goes by many names in many places: yeti or migoi in the Himalayas, Bigfoot or sasquatch in the United States and Canada, respectively; almasty in the Caucasus Mountains; orag pendek in Sumatra. (Infographic: Tracking Belief in Bigfoot)

And while reports of such creatures have abounded around the world since then, there is no real proof they exist; the reports inevitably turn out to be of a civet, bear or other known beast.

Yeti hairs

Sykes doesn't want to start receiving loads of skin, hair and other samples haphazardly, so he is asking people to send detailed descriptions of their "yeti" samples.

Once he and his colleagues have looked over the details — including physical descriptions of the sample (even photographs), its origin and ideas about the likely species it belongs to — they will send a sampling kit for those that are deemed suitable for study.

"As an academic I have certain reservations about entering this field, but I think using genetic analysis is entirely objective; it can't be falsified," Sykes said. "So I don't have to put myself into the position of either believing or disbelieving these creatures."

One theory about the yeti is that it belongs to small relic populations of other hominids, such as Neanderthals or Denisovans. While Sykes said this idea is unlikely to be proven true, "if you don't look, you won't find it."

The collection phase of the project will run through September, with genetic testing following that through November. After that, Sykes said, they will write up the results for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal; this would be the first such publication of cryptozoology results, he said.

"Several things I've done in my career have seemed impossible and stupid when contemplated, but have impressive results," Sykes said. When he set out to find DNA from ancient human remains, for instance, he thought, "It's never going to work." It did, and he published the first report of DNA from ancient human bones in the journal Nature in 1989.
Wanted: Bigfoot hair samples sought by European scientists to see if mythical creature exists
By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 9:32 AM

LONDON — European researchers are planning to use new techniques to analyze DNA that could help crack the mystery of whether Bigfoot exists.

In a project announced this week, Oxford University and Lausanne Museum of Zoology scientists appealed to museums, scientists and Yeti aficionados to share hair samples thought to be from the mythical ape-like creature.

New genetic tests will be done on just a few strands of hair and should be completed within weeks. Even if the sample is judged to come from an unknown species, scientists should be able to tell how closely it is related to other species, including apes or humans.

Bryan Sykes of Oxford University said the group had already received many offers of samples to test, including blood, hair, and items supposedly chewed by Bigfoot. Sykes and colleagues plan to sift through the samples for the next few months before deciding which specimens to test. They will then publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal.

Other experts agreed recent advances made in DNA testing could theoretically solve the Bigfoot question.

“If the Yeti is real and somebody has found bits of their hair, you should be able to tell from the DNA in the hair if this is actually a Yeti,” said Mark Thomas, a professor of evolutionary genetics at University College London. He is not connected to the Bigfoot project.

But Thomas was unsure how likely it was anyone might have actual Yeti hairs. Some scientists theorize Yetis are either a distinct hominid species, or a mix between homo sapiens and Neanderthals or other species. There is already evidence of interbreeding between homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

“If Yetis have survived for the last 30,000 years, they have probably had a pretty miserable existence and are a small population vulnerable to extinction,” Thomas said. “It’s not as insane an idea as many might think, but the chances are pretty small.”

Sykes said he has always been intrigued by stories of Yeti sightings, but would rely on science rather than such tales to prove if the stories are credible. “It’s not really possible to fabricate DNA evidence,” he said.

He acknowledged that the chances of proving the existence of a new Yeti species are low, but said that the study was still worthwhile. “If we don’t look, we’ll never find out,” he said.

Bigfoot is a legendary giant, hairy, ape-like beast that is variously known as Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, Yeti and other names. It supposedly lives in heavily forested or snowy mountains. Although most scientists don’t believe in the beast’s existence, decades of eyewitness reports, suggestive photos and stories have kept the legend alive.

David Frayer, a professor of biological anthropology at Kansas University, told The Associated Press in an email that “No serious scientist (would) treat Yeti as a worthy research project.”

He said previous tests on supposed Yeti hairs have already been done — “and they turned out to be from a bison.”
Scientists Seek Big Genes of Bigfoot
Published May 22,

Can science unravel one of life’s enduring mysteries?

Rumors of the hairy humanoid known variously as the yeti, bigfoot and sasquatch have persisted for decades, despite little hard evidence beyond grainy photographs and plaster casts of giant footprints. Now scientists are hoping to make more of a case for the creature -- with the help of genetic testing, Reuters reported.

The Lausanne Museum of Zoology in Switzerland together with prestigious Oxford University said Tuesday, May 22, that they will together use DNA testing to examine organic remains that some claim belong to the beast.

'There have been DNA tests done on alleged yetis but since then the testing techniques have improved a lot.'
- Bryan Sykes at Oxford's Wolfson College

"It's an area that any serious academic ventures into with a deal of trepidation ... it's full of eccentric and downright misleading reports," Bryan Sykes at Oxford's Wolfson College told Reuters.

Lausanne has an archive of such organic material assembled by researcher Bernard Heuvelmans, the news agency reported. Heuvelmans sought the yeti for over 50 years until his death in 2001.

"There have been DNA tests done on alleged yetis and other such things but since then the testing techniques, particularly on hair, have improved a lot due to advances in forensic science," Sykes said.
Despite the lack of hard evidence, Bigfoot believers are steadfast in their conviction that somewhere out there lurks a giant hominoid that simply has eluded all efforts to track it down.

"I have been immersed in Sasquatch research for a number of years, and I can tell you in my mind a mountain of evidence supports the existence of these creatures," Ken Gerhard, a San Antonio cryptozoologist who co-wrote "Monsters of Texas," recently told the Houston Chronicle.

Ogopogo: The world's second best-known lake monster after Scotland's Nessie, captured recently on a grainy cell phone video.

Montauk Monster: Some speculated it was an escaped mutant. Others thought it was an alien. Or was it just a raccoon?

The Carolina Critter: A bizarre creature that washed ashore last week in Folly Beach, S.C., sparked speculation of sea monsters.

Gerhard, who also heads up the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization, said Texas has one of the nation’s highest incidents of bigfoot reports, outranked only by Washington, California, Oregon, Ohio and Florida.

Bigfoot hit the headlines earlier this month when an Oregon fan discovered that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Association regulations would make it legal for a hunter to kill the mythical creature.
Despite the fact that chief of staff Lt. David. Sinclair told that he never mentioned bigfoot specifically, Texas law does seem clear; if Bigfoot is indigenous to Texas, it can be killed there.
So is Bigfoot a Longhorn? Absolutely, said Brian Brown, media coordinator for the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy.

“We’ve got hundreds of sightings going back decades. I don’t think we’d have any problem proving it’s indigenous. We think they’re all over the region,” Brown told

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jeffrey Kelley: Bigfoot Run In Video is a Rental Costume

  • This is a screen shot of
    the YouTube link goes directly to the Youtube video "Bigfoot Run In"
Recently Jeffrey Kelley shared his detective work with us regarding a video that was circling the internet titled, "Bigfoot Run In". At Bigfoot Evidence, Shawn's last line about this video seem really telling. Shawn had reported this video on a post titled, "New Footage: Mr. Blurrycam Films Pacific Northwest Sasquatch (Updated). Shaw's last line was, "Update: Flickr account suggests uploader (designperfxion) is really into costumes." It seems Jeffrey Kelley has evidence that supports this. You can watch the video, "Bigfoot Run In" below.

The rest is what Jeffrey Kelley shared in The Squatchers Lounge.:

BUSTED! Bigfoot Run In Exposed as a HOAX!
By Jeffrey Kelley in The Squatchers Lounge! · Edit Doc · Delete
Some of you may know that I take pride in tracking some of these released Sasquatch videos down to either verify or crack wide open a hoax. I have done it here in The Squatchers Lounge a few times before well here it comes again.
Being a computer engineer my talents lean more towards examining video and pictures trying to find the little things that shouldn't be there. In this particular case something never sat right with me concerning this video. Many of the Blogs have covered it and many still think it could be the real deal. Unfortunately it was a stunt pulled by a costume maker in an attempt to get his name out there.
The company is called "Klone - Special Effects" While I was out cruising the interwebs looking for content and information I happened upon this web site. upon looking though the images and links on the page, one of which was labled "Bigfoot Costume" it brought me to the following picture. I claim no ownership of the image and I am posting it for educational purposes only!
Along with the photo there is a link to a Youtube video that was created using the suit in the picture. Of coarse I followed the link and low and behold the following Youtube video was loaded. It was posted on March 20th 2012 the link above to view the video or see the first comment to watch in embedded.
Here is a link to the main page of the website
Here is a link to the Bigfoot costume and the youtube link
Many of the blogs had picked up this story when the footage was first posted and still there are questions on the authenticity of the video. After viewing the video several times before my discovery and I had questioned if the video could be real. The comments posted with the video are very misleading as if the encounter was real.
"during a hike in the Pacific Northwest I was startled by a noise then saw this step out from behind a tree. I stumbled for my cell phone camera & took this video as it was walking away from me."
I am glad to be able to share it with all of you.

Its Official, Oxford University's Bryan Sykes is asking for Bigfoot DNA Samples

Bryan Sykes from Oxford University wants your Bigfoot DNA samples 
The information below is from the Oxford University website. not only does it have an official timeline, including publication date but also how to submit your Bigfoot evidence to Bryan Sykes of Oxford University.

As part of a larger enquiry into the genetic relationship between our own species Homo sapiens and other hominids, we invite submissions of organic material from formally undescribed species, or “cryptids”, for the purpose of their species identification by genetic means.

The project is divided into three phases.

SAMPLE SUBMISSION PHASE        May – September 2012
DNA ANALYSIS PHASE            September – November 2012
PUBLICATION PHASE            November – December 2012

Sample submissions are invited from institutions and individuals. In the first instance, please send details of the material you would like to submit to one of the Principal Investigators. These should include:

·    Your name, institutional affiliation (if any), postal and email addresses and other contact details. 
·    A physical description of the specimen: (Hair, tooth etc). Photographs welcome.
·    Its provenance: A short account of the origin of the sample, when and where (with coordinates if known) it was collected and how it came to be in your possession.
·    Identification: Your opinion of its likely species identification, and your reasons.
·    Authority: A statement that you are entitled to send the specimen for analysis and that we have permission to publish the results.

In order to avoid misidentification of samples due to contamination, our preferred material is hair, although tissues will be considered.

After reviewing your submission, we will send you a sampling kit with instructions. Please do not send any materials without first hearing from us. They will not be analysed nor returned.

You may choose whether to be identified as the donor of the sample, or to remain anonymous.

At the end of the submission phase, the most promising samples will be selected for DNA analysis. You will not be charged for the analysis. Unselected samples will be returned. 

The process of DNA analysis is destructive. Any unused material from selected samples will be returned or, if you prefer, will be submitted for curation as part of the Bernard Heuvelmans Cryptozoology archive in Lausanne. 

Results from DNA analysis will be prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed science journal. No results will be released until any embargoes on publication have passed. 


Prof. Bryan Sykes                        
Professor of Human Genetics                    
Wolfson College                        
University of Oxford                        
Oxford OX2 6UD                        
United Kingdom                                   
Dr. Michel Sartori
Musee de Zoologie
Palais de Rumine
Place de Riponne 6
CH-1014 Lausanne

When emailing please use OLCHP as the subject of your message


Bigfoots Are Big and Kidfoots Are Small

It's Kidfoot! "Bigfoots are tall and Kidfoots are small"
No introduction can do this video justice. We were burning way past the midnight oil on other projects and  stumbled upon this by accident. This was actually on the page. Woot's main website generally offers only one discounted product each day, often a piece of computer hardware or an electronic gadget. They have the best copy writers in the world and very clever at promoting their gadgets. Inevitably they would make a faux kids show about Bigfoots Kidfoots.

Read the description of the new show that will be broadcast every Thursday on Kids.Woot
Everywhere we go, we hear people saying "I love the Woot podcast, but I wish I could watch it over at Kids.Woot instead. And that it had puppets. And that the puppets were sasquatch young." 
Well, we listened! 
KidFoot showcases the lighthearted adventures of Kiki and Wendel, soon to be your favorite juvenile bigfoots. Starting next week, you can see a new KidFoot episode every Thursday on Kids.Woot. That's twice the weekly Woot videos you currently enjoy -- at no additional cost to you! 

WATCH: Local Ohio News Exposes Multiple Bigfoot Sightings

Ohio's Channel 10 News Covers Bigfoot in Central Ohio
“These things don’t really want to be discovered. They lived here before the park was built.  This is their home.” -- Doug Waller, SOSBI

Watch the video below as well as the following companion written report. The best part of the video is Doug Waller's color-coded sightings map. Doug Waller is with the SouthEastern Ohio Society For Bigfoot Investigation

Bigfoot Sightings Common In Ohio

Monday May 21, 2012 10:51 PM
UPDATED: Tuesday May 22, 2012 1:58 AM

CAMBRIDGE, Oho - A group of researchers claim that Bigfoot is real, and say there are have been sightings of the creature in Ohio.

Curiosity surrounding the Bigfoot phenomenon has persisted for centuries, 10TV’s Ashleigh Barry reported.

There have been reported encounters to footprints to possible DNA.

There is now even a cable television show dedicated to communicating and finding the creature.

Bigfoot believers, like Doug Waller, say that the evidence speaks for itself.  He recently took part in a hunt for Bigfoot, near Salt Lake State Park in Guernsey County.

“These things don’t really want to be discovered,” Waller said.  “They lived here before the park was built.  This is their home.”

While some would argue that the large creatures only prowl the terrain in the Pacific Northwest, Waller said that Bigfoot has been sighted on dozens of occasions in Ohio.

Gayle Veselenak is convinced that there is a Bigfoot out there and that it is capable of communicating.

“We’ll wait and listen and sometimes you’ll get a response back,” Veselenak said.

She and her son, Matt, used a bat to communicate with the creature.

“There’s something that has to be in here for everybody to hear these noises and have all these people say that they’ve seen him or heard him,” Matt Veselenak said.  “There’s got to be something in these woods.”

Scientists have said that eyewitnesses have only presented circumstantial evidence over the years that make it impossible to confirm whether there really is a Bigfoot out there.

Some swear that an audio recording known as the “Ohio Howl” presents evidence that Bigfoot is real.  A barking dog is heard in the recording and then a siren-like moan is audible, Barry reported.

The recording that was made in Columbiana County, Ohio, was the first documented recording of what is believed to be coming from a large, male Sasquatch.

Residents said that the howls can be heard late at night, echoing off hills on both sides of the Ohio River.

“We’ve heard vocalizations come back at us,” Gayle Veselenak said.  “It’s very eerie because you’re out in the woods in the middle of the night.  The only light you have is your flashlight – that’s the only thing you can see – everything else is completely dark so you don’t know what direction anything is going to happen in.”

Perhaps the most well-known documented video of Bigfoot is the Patterson-Gimlin footage that was shot in 1967, Barry reported.

Peter Byrne, a veteran Bigfoot tracker disagrees with the notion that the video is a hoax.

“We think that footage is real,” Byrne said.  “We really think so.”

Byrne, an Ireland native, is renowned for his abilities to raise millions of dollars in the name of Bigfoot research.  He recently made a guest appearance in Cambridge for a Bigfoot conference that attracted nearly 600 believers.

Byrne said that having hundreds of attendees is proof that skepticism is diminishing.  He is hopeful that one day concrete evidence proves his theory is true.

“Science demands a body on the table,” Byrne said.  “Science demands physical remains on the table, so what we hope for is to find a body of one that has died from natural causes and there's that possibility and then it's all over.  We know that they are there -- or were there -- so that's what I hope for in the future before I move on.”

Scientists and Bigfoot trackers will continue searching for answers, Barry reported.

“A lot of famous big footers have died and still have not had sightings,” Waller said.

“They’re there,” Gayle Veselenak said.

The most recent reported Bigfoot sighting was reported in April in Mount Orab, Ohio, where someone spotted the creature near railroad tracks.

In the last 12 months In Ohio, there have been dozens of Bigfoot sightings and footprints found, Barry reported.

Monday, May 21, 2012

BFRO Releases 2011 Fish Lake Thermal Videos

Illustration and photo of thermal Bigfoot sighting
"During the last evening of the 2011 Fish Lake BFRO Expedition, five of six individuals reported seeing a figure through a hand held therm" --BFRO.Net

In 2011 BFRO lead an expedition into the Fish Lake area, Fish Lake is near the Bluff Creek area in northern California. During this expedition 5 of the 6 members were able to spot a figure on a thermal camera for a full fifteen minutes.

Detail of illustration of what was seen through the thermal lense of the camera.
Today they have released their three-part series regarding the events that transpired on the last night of the expedition. The description of the videos are, "five of six individuals reported seeing a figure through a hand held therm (ThermalEye X 100 XP) while traveling along a dirt road in total darkness. They used 3rd generation night vision (starlight scope) and the latest weapon in the squatching arsenal, a therm..."

The next morning, BFRO Field Researchers Bill Brewer and Robert Leiterman met up with the witnesses at the scene of their encounter with video camera in hand and this is what they shared.

Author Thom Powell Talks Bigfoot Spying in Richland, WA Part 1/4

Author Thom Powell next to an impressive display of the London Trackway
"Thom was one of my favorite speakers during the conference, in part because he proposes a different perspective on the field of research and has made some observations that others either have not or are not discussing." --Henry Patterson at

Full Disclosure: At Bigfoot Lunch Club we are completely biased when it comes to Thom Powell. We are huge fans. Until we met Mr. Powell it was hard for us to bridge the gap between the value we put on physical evidence and the relevance of the paranormal aspects Bigfooting. Thom Powell's "Spy Paradigm" comes close to bridging that gap. He proposes that our efforts would be best spent gathering information, like the CIA does, as oppose to trying to do hard science that requires us to duplicate results. In other words, Bigfoot is an unwilling uncooperative subject and we could gain better traction doing intelligence gathering. 

If you were to gauge by audience participation and the continued buzz afterwards, Thom Powell's presentation was the most well-received.  Henry Patterson, who was there, had this to write on Ghost Theory:
"Thom was one of my favorite speakers during the conference, in part because he proposes a different perspective on the field of research and has made some observations that others either have not or are not discussing." Henry Patterson
Watch author Thom Powell in the video below as he uses his trademark self-effacing charm to encourage a paradigm shift among bigfooters. Also in the video are topics Powell breached over a decade before they became casual conversation among Bigfooters. Want to know what the next decade has in store for Bigfoot research? Go to and buy Thom Powell's Books.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"Blair Witch" Director Talks About His New Bigfoot Trilogy

"Blair Witch" Director Eduardo Sanchez Talks Bigfoot
“The film is the first in a trilogy exploring and reinventing the Bigfoot myth,” Sanchez said. “We all remember the terror of watching such classics as ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek,’ and I look forward to making Bigfoot scary again.” -- Eduardo Sanchez

Another Sasquatchploitation movie. (Read our top 51 Sasquatchploitation movies) Except this one has a big budget behind. Not only does it have a familiar director, Eduardo Sanchez from "Blair Witch" fame, it will star creature celebrity Brian Steele as Bigfoot whom will be costumed and designed by WETA workshop, famous for Lord of the Rings, King Kong, and Avatar.

Below is  short excerpt from an interview from

SANCHEZ: I just wrapped a movie. I never really say this about any of my movies when I wrap because you just never know, but I think this next movie is going to be big. It’s a Bigfoot movie, and I’ve been trying to make a Bigfoot movie since I was 16 years old. This is the third Bigfoot script that I’ve been involved with and helped write. It’s called Exists, and we just wrapped in Austin, Texas. I’ve tried to do some Bigfoot movies with the studios, and the studios were always very hesitant because nobody knows if Bigfoot stuff will work. Part of what makes it fun is the idea of, “Is this going to work?” But, one of our assistant editors cut a quick trailer for it, as we were shooting it, and it looks really, really great. It seems like I may have made the film that I’ve been waiting to watch, since I was a teenager. Who the hell knows, if it will be any good at all, but right now, I’m feeling really optimistic about it. I’m really excited about it.

Do you know what you’ll be doing after that?

SANCHEZ: I don’t know. I’m going to take the summer off and maybe write a little bit, and then I have some other scripts that I’m working on. Right now, I’m working on the post for the Bigfoot movie, and then I’ll see what happens after that.

Is Exists done with found footage?

SANCHEZ: Yes, it’s actually the first found footage movie that I’ve done since Blair Witch. It’s totally found footage. I was going to use a similar technique to Lovely Molly, where I mixed them, but the closer I got to shooting it, it just started making more sense to do it the other way. Everything that I’ve seen Bigfoot in is all found footage. It’s always people with a video camera or a film camera, capturing him, so that seemed to be the right way to film the movie. I’m very happy I did it because it helped us out with production and it also gives it a real creepy vibe that would have been hard to get, if I had shot it normally. I’m happy with it. We spent a lot of money on the suit. WETA, the guys who did The Lord of the Rings, designed the suit, and Spectral Motion, who are Academy Award nominated effects guys, built the suit. Brian Steele was the guy in the suit, and he’s a famous creature guy. It was pretty amazing. I also really enjoyed shooting in Texas. I’m looking forward to that. I haven’t looked forward to one of my movies this much in a long time, probably since film school., so I’m pretty excited about it. You never know what you have, but it feels like we have something special, so I’m hoping and keeping my fingers crossed.

New Clues to SyFy Bigfoot Movie Starring Danny Bonaduce

The SyFy movie has a star-studded cast from the 70's through the 90's has the blu-ray version of SyFy's movie, "Bigfoot"  already listed for pre-sale on the website. We have had pretty good coverage of SyFy Bigfoot movie if you want to catch up. At the amazon website we get the new clue: When Bigfoot attacks an 80s themed music festival, a concert promoter and hippie burnout will do anything to protect the "endangered species."

So now we a little more about the plot structure of the show, which has been top secret for some time. Even the IMDB page has very little to offer. All we knew so far was Bigfoot is discovered in South Dakota, two life-long rivals (Williams and Bonaduce) battle to capture the creature — one to exploit it and one to save it.

The rest of the B-lister cast will be, but not limited to, Howard Hesseman (Head of the Class), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Andre Royo (The Wire), and rock legend Alice Cooper (School’s Out).

When will it be released? Well, if Amazon says it will be available in for purchase in August, we think SyFy will broadcast the movie during the sweep week 28 June – 25 July 2012. Sweep week is when the ratings matter the most, and when broadcasters bring in the big guns to try and get ratings. If we don't see the SyFy Bigfoot movie by July will most likely wait until November. 

Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch)  and Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Award-Winning Musical Composition Inspired by the Sasquatch

Bigfoot inspires the higher classical arts
Gentlemen, please get out on your three-piece coat and tie;  ladies, a dark colored stretch velvet gown will do. Today we are in for some art and culture!

Recently Kevin Jay Isaacs, a professor of music and music education at Western Connecticut State University, has earned an Award of Merit in composition from the Global Music Association.

His work, inspired by the Sasquatch, is a four-movement composition called "Skookum Suite Op. 112."

You can listen to a tease of each of the movements below. through each movement you can hear a story about a Sasquatch, or more specifically a Skookum who becomes "mad, sad and glad" as he is discovered by humans, escapes, and finds true love.

The Global Music Association is a top-tier music competition based in California that honors talented musicians around the world.

Isaacs teaches theory, composition and choral studies. His award-winning piece is one of several WestConn contributions to "Mad Dances: American Music for Saxophone and Piano," an album of contemporary compositions that Albany Records released last year.

SRC: NewsTimes

if you would like to buy any of these pieces below you can find the album, Mad Dances: American Music for Saxophone and Piano available at

Skookum Suite Skookums Love-Call

Skookum Suite Skookums Frolic

WATCH: Dr. Jeff Medrum's Presentation at Richland, WA Sasquatch Conference Pt 2/4

Multiple Species of hominids coexisted on this planet during the same era
This is part 2 of Dr. Jeff Meldrum's Presentation (You can view Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

In the second portion of Dr. Jeff Meldrum's presentation at the Pacific Northwest Conference on Primal People (Sasquatch) held in Richland, WA, he explains how the new discoveries of multiple species co-existing at the same time creates a more compelling argument for other hominids possibly existing in our modern era. The six hominids he mentions are "Homo" floresiensis, Homo Erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neandertalensis, Homo sapiens and H.denisova.

While he maintains there is not enough evidence, in his opinion, to indicate there are multiple Bigfoot species in North America, he does take us on a world tour of other possible hominid species on other continents. For example, the Orang Pendek. The Orang Pendek is described by Wikipedia as:
Orang Pendek (Indonesian for "short person") is the most common name given to a cryptid, or cryptozoological animal, that reportedly inhabits remote, mountainous forests on the island of Sumatra.
The animal has allegedly been seen and documented for at least one hundred years by forest tribes, local villagers, Dutch colonists, and Western scientists and travelers. Consensus among witnesses is that the animal is a ground-dwelling, bipedal primate that is covered in short fur and stands between 80 and 150 cm (30 and 60 in) tall.
 Watch as the video below as Dr. Jeff Meldrum takes us back in time among the hominids.

WATCH: Dr. Jeff Medrum's Presentation at Richland, WA Sasquatch Conference Pt 1/4

Dr Jeff Meldrum at the Richland, WA Sasquatch Conference

Below is one of four  video excerpts from the Dr. Jeff Meldrum's presentation at Thom Cantrall's Pacific Northwest Conference on Primal People (Sasquatch).  (You can view Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)

Richland WA PNW Bigfoot Conference 2012: Dr. Jeff Meldrum Part 1

In the first video, Dr. Jeff Meldrum discusses his new publication the Relict Hominoid Inquiry. According to the Relict Homoid Inquiry website:
The objective of the RHI is to promote research and provide a refereed venue for the dissemination of scholarly peer-reviewed papers exploring and evaluating the possible existence and nature of relict hominoid species around the world.
A strictly on-line free access publication, the RHI contains primarily Research Articles, as well as Commentary & Responses, Brief Communications, Essays, News &; Views, and Book Reviews.
An interesting point made by Dr. Meldrum is how the hairy-man myth is widespread but not universal. An important distinction. If the hairy-man was universal, it could be written off as a projection of human experience. This reminds us of the Jungian Archetypes, that Carl Jung suggests that are innate in our DNA. Dr. Meldrum is suggests these are not archetypes, these are not manifestations of the human psyche.

Finally, Dr. Meldrum uses an illustration from 1763 containing four mysterious primates. 1. Troglodyta Bontii, 2. Lucifer Aldrovandi, 3. Satyrus Tulpii, 4. Pygmaeus Edwardi

Anthropomorpha depicted in Hoppius' Amoenitates Academicae (1763)

The last three images have been associated to  2. Gibbon, 3. Chimpanzee 4. Orangutan respectively. This leaves the first illustration, Troglodyta Bontii, unidentified. Could it be the Sasquatch? 

Watch the video below as Dr. Jeff Meldrum touches on each of these subjects in greater detail.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Gorilla Scat Sniffing Dog Finds Endangered Species (Bigfoot Too?)

All this Border Collie Needs is the Scent of Some Bigfoot Scat
"...the dogs, after training, can pick out animal scat and completely cut out the need to trap the animal and interrupt their ecosystem." -- Alice Whitelaw, Founder of Working Dogs for Conservation 

In an article posted today at the Belgrade News we learn of dogs that are trained to sniff scat and find endangered species in a non-evasive way. They already used Orbee, a border collie, to track down the world's rarest Gorilla! The resume does not stop there Orbee has also found wolverines, grizzly bears and endangered kit foxes

Gorilla-sniffing dog lives a life of adventure

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2012 1:52 pm
Hannah Stiff 

Traveling to Cameroon, Africa to track the rarest gorilla on earth, the Cross River gorilla, is a dream for many conservation biologists, travelers and primate enthusiasts alike. But a local dog recently did just that, for two months.
Orbee, a border collie adopted from a Dillon shelter, has been traveling the country and internationally, sniffing out species on the brink of extinction and invasive species, like nap weed.

The affable collie is a part of an eight-dog group that comprises the Working Dogs for Conservation group. Most of the other seven canines were adopted from shelters by the women who run the group.
Four women founded Working Dogs for Conservation in 2000. Alice Whitelaw was one of them. She said high-energy dogs that don’t make great pets make great conservation dogs.

Orbee went from unemployed ranch dog to highly employed conservation dog in a few short months, Whitelaw said.

With the three other women, all scientists and informal dog-trainers, Whitelaw hatched a plan. The crux of the plan was to use smart, energetic dogs for the benefit of science and conservation. In practice, that meant rigorously training adopted dogs to sniff out specific scat. The goal was to track vanishing species’without ever having to trap the animal.

Whitelaw said she practiced using monitoring devices and traps to follow migration patterns of diminishing species’. But the dogs, after training, can pick out animal scat and completely cut out the need to trap the animal and interrupt their ecosystem.

“Instead of finding narcotics or bombs in suitcases, these dogs are trained to find scat,” she said. “Then we’re able to pick up on endangered species’ and non-invasively follow that population.”

With advancements in extracting DNA from scat, Whitelaw and the other women forged a partnership between canines and conservation.

The dogs’ performance in the field is quite remarkable, considering they were once dubbed inappropriate house pets and left at a shelter. Not only do the eight conservation dogs track scat, they also sniff out noxious weeds and invasive species’.

Tsavo, another working dog who lives with Whitelaw, was recently hunting for dangerous plants on Mount Sentinel in Missoula.

Another dog spent time in Oregon tracking a snail population that was decimating other native tree snails.  
Orbee was a meant to be a cattle-herding dog, he just didn’t know it, so his owners dropped him at an animal shelter. Since the conservation group adopted him, Orbee has built an impressive resume.

He just returned from fieldwork in California where he was sniffing out tiny blunt-nosed leopard lizards that are quickly disappearing. His trip to Cameroon marked the historic beginning of the country using dogs to track the elusive gorillas. Orbee has also tracked wolverines, grizzly bears and endangered kit foxes.

If endangered species can be non-invasively followed, Whitelaw said scientists can work on strategies to keep them from going extinct and protecting their homelands.  The job requires a lot of traveling for Whitelaw and her dogs, but the rapid advances it offers to science is worth the frenzied pace, she said.
And when the dogs aren’t in the field, they’re treated like family, being taken home by their trainers, living with other house pets, and roaming in spacious fields.

“Our dogs aren’t in kennels. All the handlers have their dogs living with them,” she said. “They live with our families, with our other pets. We find that that has increased their working lifespan significantly.”
Because they aren’t kept in cages, but rather treated like family, Whitelaw said the dogs love to work.
“Patrol and bomb dogs are retired at seven or eight years old,” she said. “Tsavo is still working at 11.”
The Working Dogs for Conservation headquarters are in Whitelaw’s house on a plot of land in Three Forks. Other founders and employees are spread around Missoula and California, but Three Forks is definitely home base, Whitelaw said.  

In addition to their busy work schedule, five of the eight conservation dogs are competing in the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards. Orbee is one of those dogs. Of the five dogs competing, two were rescues from Montana shelters, and two also live in the Gallatin Valley.

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