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The BFRO web site was built and launched in 1995. It was the first web site
to provide a collection of bigfoot/sasquatch sighting reports. In fact, it was
the first web site to provide a database of sighting reports of any type of
elusive phenomena. The early success and popularity of the BFRO site led to
a minor proliferation of other web sites applying the same formula, to UFO reports,
ghost reports, etc.
The BFRO site is the only collection of bigfoot reports from across North America that have actually been investigated by researchers to determine credibility. The BFRO has a large network of experienced volunteer investigators across the U.S. and Canada who use various methods to determine the credibility of reports. They spend a great deal of time and effort sorting through and investigating sighting reports to determine which are credible enough to display to the public. None of the modern reports in the BFRO's online database are made public without some kind of investigation.
The nature of these investigations vary. The most complex investigations
involve field searches with experienced trackers and wildlife biologists,
surveillance projects, and lab analysis of forensic evidence. The less complex
investigations involve phone interviews and other steps to verify the relevant
information. If a witness cannot be contacted and interviewed, etc., the report
is not considered credible. Sighting reports sent to the BFRO are analyzed, evaluated and investigated
with techniques and approaches derived from the legal profession, law enforcement,
and investigative journalism. The legal profession often relies exclusively
on witness testimony to determine facts. In a court of law conclusions are determined
under various standards, such the "more likely than not" standard,
and the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. Every
day in court rooms across America, legal conclusions are handed down based solely
upon witness testimony, and often upon the testimony of a single witness, and
often under the more stringent "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.
In these situations the evaluation of a witness is almost entirely subjective.
The use of subjective evaluation is what separates the legal perspective of witness testimony from the scientific perspective. Witness reports are considered "anecdotal evidence" by science, mainly because they are not testable. Yet many scientists are wise enough to understand that anecdotal evidence always precedes and leads to the collection of scientific evidence. In the history of science, scientific evidence has never been collected or even pursued until there has been enough anecdotal or indirect evidence at hand to merit an effort to collect the testable evidence. Thus without the collection and evaluation of anecdotal evidence or indirect evidence, there would be no scientific discoveries at all. This is the intrinsic relationship between the two types of evidence. Sighting reports by themselves are not scientific evidence, but they are what leads us to the scientific evidence.
With respect to the pursuit of an unclassified species, the collecting of credible sighting reports is an essential part of the scientific process.
All reports posted into the BFRO's online database are assigned a classification: Class A, Class B, or Class C. The difference between the classifications relates to the potential for misinterpretation of what was observed or heard. A given witness might be very credible, but could have honestly misinterpreted something that was seen, found, or heard. Thus, for the most part, the circumstances of the incident determine the potential for misinterpretation, and therefore the classification of the report.
Class A reports involve clear sightings in circumstances where misinterpretation or misidentification of other animals can be ruled out with greater confidence. For example, there are several footprint cases that are very well documented. These are considered Class A reports, because misidentification of common animals can be confidently ruled out, thus the potential for misinterpretation is very low.
Incidents where a possible sasquatch was observed at a great distance or in poor lighting conditions and incidents in any other circumstance that did not afford a clear view of the subject are considered Class B reports.
For example, credible reports where nothing was seen but distinct and characteristic sounds of sasquatches were heard are always considered Class B reports and never Class A, even in the most compelling "sound-only" cases. This is because the lack of a visual element raises a much greater potential for a misidentification of the sounds.
Class B reports are not considered less credible or less important than Class A reports--both types are deemed credible enough by the BFRO to show to the public. For example, one of the best documented reports ever received by the BFRO is a Class B report from Trinity County California. It involved a very credible witness who backpacked into a remote area that has a history of sasquatch-related incidents. He described various occurrences around his camp at night that are strongly suspected to be sasquatch-related. The report is still considered Class B though because there was no clear visual observation to confirm what was heard outside the tent.
Almost all reports included in the database are first-hand reports. Occassionally a second-hand report is considered reliable enough to add to the database, but those reports are never Class A, because of the higher potential for inaccuracy when the story does not come straight from the eyewitness.
Most second-hand reports, and any third-hand reports, or stories with an untraceable sources, are considered Class C, because of the high potential for inaccuracy. Those reports are kept in BFRO archives but are very rarely listed publicly in this database. The exceptions are for published, or locally documented incidents from before 1958 (before the word "Bigfoot" entered the American vocabulary), and sightings mentioned in non-tabloid newspapers or magazines.
The BFRO's report classification system rates the circumstantial potential for misinterpretation, not the credibility of the witness or how interesting the report is. If you are checking the Recent Additions page periodically for new reports, or to steadily gain a better understanding of behavior and geographic range, you should pay attention to both Class A and Class B reports.
If you encounter a report that seems to have been misclassified, please feel free to let us know via our Comments form.