The hunt for Bigfoot continues in New York

By Wendell Gaa

It was late summer 2011 when I spent a weekend traveling to northern Washington State to visit my cousins. Their residence in the tranquil town of Bellingham is blessed with the ideal natural backdrop settings of the Pacific Northwest: rugged mountains, thick forests, and greenery everywhere.

Being an outdoor enthusiast, I had a natural love for this region of America, and became enamored with all the endless possibilities for nature hiking and camping out there. Yet in the back of my mind, I also had a lingering fascination for one of the most enduring mythological creatures which have reportedly been seen by countless eyewitnesses throughout the Pacific Northwest since the time of the ancient Native American tribes, the Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot. My cousin told me that he had some neighbors who claimed to have seen the Sasquatch, thus further grew my thirst for knowledge.

The recent New York Comic Con (NYCC) held at the Jacob Javits Center had one panel featuring the scientists and hosts of the “Finding Bigfoot” documentary program which airs on the Animal Planet channel (the new season begins this month on Nov. 10).

Finding Bigfoot” has been airing for two years now, and its thrust is basically to follow the members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) in their search for the elusive Sasquatch, which according to scientific speculation is a humanoid being that resembles a large hairy ape that can stand, walk and run upright (think Chewbacca the Wookie from the “Star Wars”). There have been dozens of other shows which have explored the possibility of this creature’s existence, but what makes this particular documentary different is the fact that it never questions the existence of Bigfoot but rather observes and documents the scientific team’s search efforts as if it were searching for specimens of a known animal group.

The BFRO team consists of researchers Matt Moneymaker, James “Bobo” Fay, Cliff Barackman, and Ranae Holland, the lone female team member and skeptic on the show.

Watching “Finding Bigfoot,” it is interesting and often amusing seeing the team making use of reconstructions, using one of their members (“Bobo”) as a Sasquatch stand-in for eyewitnesses to assess the scale, along with the use of night-vision technology. Often the team will also mimic the “Bigfoot yells” in such a way that may resemble what the actual Sasquatch sounds like, if it does in fact exist somewhere in the wilderness.

We were pleased to see that all of the show’s BFRO scientists were on hand at their NYCC panel this year. After formally introducing themselves, they took the time and pleasure to describe the content and mission of their show. Those who follow the show devotedly are well aware that the team not only confines their Bigfoot research within the Pacific Northwest alone, but also spreads to different regions of North America and even to other parts of the world, such as Australia which has experienced its own sightings of a similar creature called a “Yowie,” and in Indonesia which has been home to the legendary “Orang Pendek,” a presumed relative of the indigenous ape the Orangutan.

We were very excited to hear from the team that for future episodes of the show, they would document their voyages through the mysterious Himalayan mountain region in Asia, where there is still ongoing research to prove the existence of the Sasquatch’s cold climate cousin, the Abominable Snowman, or Yeti.

As audience members asked the research team various questions on their mission as documented in “Finding Bigfoot,” there were some contentious exchanges, mostly light-hearted and humorous, on evidence which may prove or disprove the existence of the Sasquatch and its “cousins” presumably living in remote and untouched wilderness areas in different parts of the globe. But whether or not we felt in our hearts that there was concrete proof that Bigfoot truly does exist based on eyewitness reports or photos/videos of the creature, Ranae Holland for me seemed to best sum up the panel’s objective especially after my brief talk with her after their team talk session.

Being the team’s skeptic, she told me that the whole enthrallment generated by the panel wasn’t so much on proving Bigfoot’s existence, but that the numerous Sasquatch legends and sightings only corroborate the fact that there is so much more to nature that mankind has yet to understand. And considering that there are acres of forests, levels of mountain ranges, and oceanic depths where humans have not yet treaded, I learned from this panel that there is indeed so much more to this planet that mankind still needs to learn from and vitally comprehend.

The author with Ranae Holland, the lone female scientist and skeptic on "Finding Bigfoot"

The author with Ranae Holland, the lone female scientist and skeptic on “Finding Bigfoot”

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