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DHS Squirrel

Adopting the Navajo Model


by Matt Moneymaker 12/30/22


The BFRO has been collecting sighting information since 1995. A little less than 6,000 of those reports have been made public on the BFRO website, out of a bit more than 75,000 reports received.

That full growing body of information was very useful in finding witnesses and locations for the Animal Planet Channel series "Finding Bigfoot." The same information will be helpful to state government wildlife researchers and naturalists who want to look into the matter of bigfoots spotted in their states.

If one of their own people has an encounter or finds tracks, they may want to know if other encounters have been reported in the same area, for example. Also, if people generally want bigfoots to be protected, then it will be very helpful for state wildlife researchers to know where they are spotted, and where they are not spotted (just as important).

It is appropriate to normalize the access to sighting information by state gov wildlife/forest caretakers for a variety of reasons.

Many people in the BFRO would naturally want me to be very careful about that. They would not want the information to be used for destructive purposes. If our own people have concerns about that, then many others will as well.

We will invite only one or two people from each state. We will start with only a few states, and it will only be state people in wildlife related positions (naturalist, game warden, woodland fire department, etc.) who WE ALREADY KNOW.

I wanted to gauge whether there is a common feeling out there that any government access puts bigfoots at risk somehow, so I put the question to people on the BFRO's official Facebook Group ("BFRO 1995").

So far most of the respondents said they would actually be more inclined to report a sighting if state wildlife people were receiving the reports also, after I pointed out that protecting the species would require state wildlife people to know about them, even if it's just reports from the public.

In the past, it was common to hear a deep distrust of the government from witnesses. But it was, and still is, even more common that witnesses felt their info should be available to legitimate wildlife researchers, which might naturally include some government wildlife department people. So if witnesses don't trust "the government" we don't interpret that to mean they wouldn't give their information to state wildlife experts about what they saw.

There is definitely a common feeling that "these creatures should be protected."  Protecting these creatures won't simply be a matter of announcing severe legal punishments for anyone who harms one. In many cases that sentiment will translate to protecting certain areas. State gov people need to know or figure out those areas, especially the ones that are strategically vital for a given group of bigfoots in a given county or national forest. That's how you really protect them. The biggest threats by humans are not direct.

When the BFRO's internal database of sighting information for a given county (on average 90% is not published) is digested it often points to certain areas within a county. It also shows that large portions in those counties have zero sighting reports.

Compare that to deer, which will be spotted occasionally in most parts of most counties in most US states. Bigfoots are very rare compared to deer. State wildlife people need to see that too, for example.

Across all the genuine habitat areas for bigfoots, only a fraction are crucially vital for particular populations. Those habitats (usually seasonal) need to be protected as development penetrates the surrounding forest lands, especially in states where it is happening rapidly, like in Texas, Florida and Washington etc.

BFRO people already know a few state wildlife people in a few states who want to receive sighting reports. Those people were not selected by the state to be the official liaison to the BFRO, rather they met us over the years because they were genuinely interested in the subject, and we were genuinely happy that they were genuinely interested. There should be more official channels like this, but it takes a long while to grow organically.

To that end we are now recommending the "Navajo Model" to state and/or county governments. There should be a go-to pair at the county level in some cases because out west some counties are as large as some states back east.

Navajo Rangers on Netflix

If you’ve watched the Netflix episode of Unsolved Mysteries (Season 3) focusing on the Navajo Indian Reservation, you will recall how Navajo authorities were forced to contend with strange sighting reports from the Navajo Rez.

Like in basically all jurisdictions of North America, the regular Navajo first responders (police, fire, etc.) didn’t want to deal with paranormal type sightings and encounters (UFOs, ghosts, Bigfoots) for various practical and political reasons, including the reason that heated debates would naturally arise about what the priorities should be for local first responders. Big can ‘o worms best kept sealed.

The governmental conundrum for the Navajos was driven by the fact that many people in those communities were getting frightened by a variety of paranormal activity which is very abundant in that part of the country ... and you know that is no joke if you've ever spent time around there at night. Think Skinwalker Ranch, right next door. It's not just the natives describing the wild stuff down there.

These incidents frightened the people who reported them to Navajo police. Navajo police (like everywhere else) didn’t know what to do about the reports, so they didn’t do anything (like everywhere else).

Some tribal members disliked (understatement) the feeling that they were not being taken seriously by the police … about what scared them half to death. It raised so many questions about their safety, and the safety of their family, livestock and pets.

At least one of those witnesses made an official complaint to the tribal council. That first complaint seemed a harbinger for more complaints of the same type, so the Navajo police had to think it through and come up with a functional solution, and they did. Their analysis and solution is a real model for every other jurisdiction. It’s not a blueprint, but rather a process of analysis to determine how to solve the problem.

The Navajo Rez is spacious and sparsely populated. It is the size of West Virginia. It is vast but there are only 175,000 people. West Virginia, by contrast, has 1.783 *million* people yet does not feel crowded at all. Navajo land feels even more uncrowded. It is mostly uninhabited, yet it is the most populated reservation by a wide margin.

On the Navajo Rez there are different law enforcement entities. The entity determined to be most appropriate for investigating paranormal encounters etc., was the one for protecting all natural resources out in the boonies (rather than street patrol police).

Because of the topography of the reservation, the solution needed to be a division of rangers, in part because rangers can get anywhere they need to be. They have access to all sorts of transportion modes. The Navajo Rangers also have their own SWAT division, so this would just be a new division — one that didn’t need anything fancy in the way of weapons (because there was nothing to fight) but rather the tools of investigators and journalists. They only needed their regular gear plus cameras, audio recorders, note pads, maps, etc. The focus was on the witness stories, because one very important goal was to make those frightened adamant witnesses feel they were being taken seriously by authorities.

The local government would then be prepared to address questions about those incidents, and how they were being handled by authorities, and whether there seems to be any danger to the community, etc. But prepared in a way that would not prompt some people in town to complain that they did not receive timely police services on some occasion because the cops were too busy investigating UFOs.

The Navajo law-enforcement community had to walk a fine line, and they did for years, and they were likely the first ones to do it, and do it with an official government directive that was not secretive.

The functional application of the “Navajo Model” in other jurisdictions may lead in some other direction, for sake of practicality or feasibility. It might end up leading to a local volunteer fire department, for example, if there are no rangers operating in that county. Firefighters or even forestry workers may be the natural choice to utilize in remote areas not served by rangers.

On the Navajo Rez the witnesses (and all their extended family members … which extend pretty far on a Rez ... and can potentially vote you off the tribal council) felt they were being respected and taken seriously when this ranger team showed up to take down their story. Nobody else had a problem with that -- a special pair of rangers devoting some attention to those peoples' non-emergency concerns.

That's all it took ... in the most paranormally active place on Earth, the size of West Virginia. It was very efficient and very respectful. Moreover, the responders could clearly see and feel that they were providing an important community service when they spoke with those frightened tribal members.

The Navajo authorities saw that it could be done with two people from among the rangers who would be particularly good at documentation, witness interviews, etc.

The Navajo government didn’t need to provide answers to anything after that. They just needed to let those rangers speak openly about whatever they gathered and surmised.

Not surprisingly… those two Navajo rangers who were so good at doing interviews, were particularly good at being interviewed themselves. Their story about what they learned turned out to be such a good story that many of outside Navajo land wanted to hear it. Catch that episode on Netflix if you can.

I think that the Navajo situation will reverberate among rural first responders in many places. Many lessons to be drawn from their story.

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Please contact us if you work for a state gov wildlife agency, or a state gov department that deals with natural resources, especially forest management and protection. We would like to give you access to all the information we have collected for your state if you're willing to be the go-to person for other state wildlife/forestry people.

You can send an email to the address shown on the BFRO homepage, or simply leave a voicemail at the number shown on the BFRO homepage.

This will be the ideal arrangement for states. They can receive information without having to officially acknowledge these creatures until they are ready and willing to do that for tourism purposes, like Ohio and Oklahoma already do.

The state gov people who become the state's go-to guys (or gals) for sighting reports do not need to identify themselves publicly. That's important. They should be able to receive information without being hounded by the public. They might be hounded by freelance reporters to find out what other information they have.

And if states were foolish enough to give an address for a state office that collects that info ... it would soon become a magnet for overly enthusiastic, overly loquacious persons who would urgently demand attention for their many fantastic stories and strange sounds outside their house ... in the middle of the suburbs. The person who would have to deal with that all day long would probably not last very long.

Much better to make all witnesses  fill out a form where they provide all the relevant information, knowing the information will be stored and available to the right people. And then let the state gov go-to people decide whether they need to contact a witness, which will not happen in most cases. In most cases they will simply want to see where reports are clustering, and draw their own inferences from those clusters (or lack thereof). And they should.

Question: Why is the BFRO motivated to do this?

Answer: If you read the article above you will find some good reasons to do this. Beyond that, we have found that we receive information from government channels whenever we provide information to government channels, so the exchanging of information works both ways. And the info coming to us often includes great tips on where we should run our expeditions. That's golden for us, and for those who join us.