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Media Article # 4
Article prepared and posted by Dawn Harrack

Saturday, July 5, 1997

Bigfoot Gains his own Exhibit

By Cindy Long
Grants Pass Daily Courier

Wanted: A big hairy creature that stands 8 feet tall and weighs about 800 pounds, with 14-inch-long feet.

The mystical sasquatch, or bigfoot, apparently has managed to elude its human neighbors for centuries, despite various sightings reported for the better part of the last 100 years.

For some, bigfoot is a fantasy kind of like Santa Claus. But for others, the elusive creature is real. After all, just because you haven't seen it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Take China for instance how many Grants Pass residents have actually been to China and physically seen it. Not that many, but everyone believes it's there. For the open-minded, the bigfoot search has been going on for decades.

Regardless, the bigfoot legend is here to stay. An old trap set up in the 1970s still stands in the Applegate Ranger District of the Rogue River National Forest. Also, the Pacific Northwest Museum of Natural History in Ashland has a large exhibit under way in honor of the furry creature.

These days, the door to the bigfoot trap is bolted open to prevent any unsuspecting visitors from inadvertently getting caught. Quite a few visitors sneak a peek at the now non-functional trap. "Yeah, it's safe," said John McKelligott, public services supervisor for the Applegate Ranger District. "We go up to look at it. But we're not going to maintain it."

McKelligott said the Forest Service checks on the over-sized bear trap occasionally to make sure it's still safe, but there are no plans to spend any money to fix it up.

North American Wildlife Research applied in the 1970s to get a special use permit to build and maintain the trap, which is located about a half-mile up a trail that begins across the road from Hart-tish Park, said McKelligott. Eventually, the company lost interest in the trap and the Forest Service quit renewing the permit.

The trap has, on occasion, attracted attention across the country and around the world. But he remains neutral on whether the bigfoot fables have merit.

"I'm uncommitted," he said. "...It's kinda like Santa Claus. It's fun to believe in.''

Meanwhile, the museum in Ashland is taking a more scientific approach to the matter. Designer Tony Kerwin said the display is set up to allow viewers to use the scientific method when trying to figure out if bigfoot tromps around the woods at night.

The display, which took about six months to put together, has five areas. One for eyewitness accounts, another for bigfoot footprint casts, a third has fossils of suspected bigfoot ancestors, another has a famous video of an alleged bigfoot and the final area is a summary of the evidence. The display also gives people a chance to vote on whether they believe bigfoot exists. Only about a quarter of the people who visit the display actually vote, but so far the unscientific poll has 50 percent saying, yes there is a bigfoot. The other half is split evenly between no and not sure.

Kerwin reluctantly gave his vote: "I looked into it for six months and I keep looking into it," he said. "I'd have to say I don't (believe), but I like the idea."

Kerwin said the lack of physical evidence after so many years is pretty condemning.

The display opened earlier this month and will run at least through autumn. So far, it has attracted the attention of about 5,000 visitors.

What we hope is people will take a look and follow (the scientific method)," Kerwin said. Some read through the scientific method. We hope that people pick up a little bit of that, so they have another way to look at the world around them."

The museum is located at 1500 E. Main St. in Ashland. For more information, call (541) 488-1084.

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