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Media Article # 330

Wednesday, January 8, 2003

High Country home to Bigfoot?

By Jane Stebbins
Summit Daily News

SUMMIT COUNTY - U.S. Forest Service Ranger Jamie Connell has never seen a Bigfoot. But in the lobby of the Forest Service's Silverthorne office is a cast of one of the legend's feet.

"It's a cast of what we think one would look like if someone did report it," she said, adding that it wouldn't surprise her if someone reported a sighting someday. "We've had reports of grizzly bears since I've been here. That was the craziest, most unheard-of wildlife I've heard of in the county. You never know."

Bigfoot - the legendary half-man, half-ape species rumored to roam the forests - has been in the news lately since the death of Ray Wallace, whose family claims he made fake footprints, photos and video clips of the animal.

The closest Summit County Sheriff Joe Morales has come to a Bigfoot is in the movies, but he wouldn't be surprised if someone came forth to report a sighting.

"It's a human dynamic," he said. "People see things in the woods. We've had UFO calls. You never know. They're discovering new species every day on the planet."

He thinks if a Bigfoot really existed, there would be more evidence.

"It's interesting," Morales said of the phenomenon. "There's a lot of theory out there, but it still lacks a lot of evidence."

But scientists - including renowned ape researcher Jane Goodall - are placing more credence on the possibility it exists.

According to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO), considered by many to be among the most credible agencies trying to determine if the animal exists, people have reported seeing the animal once in Summit County, four times in Park County and numerous times in Eagle County in the past few years.

Reports date back as far as the 1800s, and Indian folklore about Bigfoot contributes to its validity.

Officials at the organization put sightings in three classes. Criteria are not based on the credibility of witnesses or how interesting the report is, but whether a misidentification can be ruled out. BFRO officials give physical sightings and footprints an "A" rating as being the most credible. They give "B" ratings - in which there is a higher probability of incorrectly identifying say, a bear - to reports of noise. "C" ratings are given to rumors and secondhand reports.


Sasquatch in Summit

Only one person - a man identified as Brian B. - has reported seeing a sasquatch in Summit County.

According to his account on the BFRO Web site, Sept. 19, 1998, he was driving along Highway 91 between Copper Mountain and Leadville when he saw what he thought was a totem pole in the woods. He looked at it to see more detail when the "totem pole" rotated from its waist to look at him. The man said he pulled over to the side of the road, but by the time the dust settled around him, the bigfoot was gone.

Brian B. said he has lived in the High Country for 30 years and spends a lot of his time hiking, camping and fly-fishing in the backcountry. He said he has seen three other sightings of

bigfoot-like creatures, none of which could have been bears as they didn't have the large, rounded rump or pointed nose.

On Nov. 5, 2001, Brian B. said he and a friend were driving westbound on Interstate 70 between Minturn and Edwards when he saw two people crossing the Eagle River. He thought they'd crashed over the embankment and were making their way back to the roadway when he realized they weren't people after all.

"They were furry, upright creatures," he told BFRO researcher T.E. Stein. "I saw legs and arms and elbows. They had no snouts, no round ears - it was nothing like a bear. It was nothing like a man, really."

Another report - backed up by the Eagle County Sheriff's Office in April 2000 - included photos of footprints along the edge of the Eagle River one mile east of Eagle.

Most reported sightings in Colorado have taken place in Park County, where the BFRO has recorded one physical sighting and three reports of unusual noise.

The most recent report, filed May 12, 2001, by a woman who lives near Saddle Mountain in Park County, indicates she and her two children were "paralyzed" by a loud, spine-tingling noise emanating from the woods.

"It was the creepiest thing I've ever heard in my life," the woman wrote in the report. "It was like a rooster and a dog, but it was 10 times louder."


Bigfoot Trivia:

€ Native Americans have more than 60 names for the animal-legend known as bigfoot. The most common are "Sasquatch," "Bigfoot" and "Yeti."

€ The name "Sasquatch" is an anglicization of the Coast Salish Indian word, "sesquac" of British Columbia. Sesquac means "wild man."

€ Researchers believe 2,000 to 8,000 Bigfoots might exist nationwide.

€ Bigfoots are reported

to be upwards of 10 feet tall, have longer arms than animals like bears, run like humans and have human facial features that are covered with hair.

- Bigfoot Field Research Organization, at


Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

Bibliographical Information:

Stebbins, Jane. "High Country home to Bigfoot?" Summit Daily News, 8 January 2003:1.

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