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Media Article # 85

Friday, August 25, 2000

Have you seen Bigfoot?

By Andrew Griffin
The Town Talk (Alexandria - Pineville, Louisiana)

COTTON ISLAND, LOUISIANA- Is "Bigfoot" prowling the woods in the Cotton Island area of northeast Rapides Parish? Some residents of that area believe he is - and they say he smells bad.
Three sightings of a creature believed to be a "Bigfoot" creature have been reported in the past fewdays in the Cotton Island area, north of Holloway and east of Esler Regional Airport.
Four-toed footprints, coarse black hair samples and the eyewitness accounts have some residents believing that an elusive Bigfoot creature is lurking in the nearby forests and swamps of Little Creekand Boggy Bayou.
"I never dreamed one would be back here," said Mary Ward, a Cotton Island resident, who
reported that a fisherman saw a Bigfoot creature carrying a hog.
Earl Whitstine of Pollock and Carl Dubois of Montgomery probably wouldn't have believed it either- except, they say, they saw the creature with their own eyes. Whitstine says he saw the creaturetwice this week.
The two were working on a timber-cutting crew from Delrie Wood Products of Colfax, they said,when they spotted Bigfoot near an area where they were clearing wood on Ward's property.
Whitstine said it was early Tuesday morning that he was surveying the property line to cut the timberwhen he first spotted Bigfoot.
"It was hairy and looked like a human in a way," Whitstine said, adding that the creature was 25yards away from him.
"I hollered at him, and he took off running. It happened so quick, I didn't have time to be scared,"Whitstine said. "I don't know what it was, but it had big feet." When Whitstine told the timber crew about his experience, most of them said they wouldn't believe it until they saw it for themselves.
Dubois said that when he heard the story, it was "kind of hard to believe" until he "saw it with myown eyes." On Thursday morning, Whitstine and skidder operator Dubois said they were walking on the property, near the spot where Whitstine's earlier sighting had occurred, when Bigfoot showed upagain.
Whitstine and Dubois said they were both shocked and surprised.
"When we saw it, Earl hollered at it, and it ran off down towards (the bayou)," Dubois said, adding,"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it." Whitstine said before Bigfoot's appearance at Boggy Bayou, he had planned on going camping in the area with his children. Now he's reconsidered.
"Now, there ain't no way," Whitstine said of the camping idea.
Officers from Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office came to the scene and looked at the footprints and took hair samples.
"It looked good to us," said Deputy C. Brown after leaving the scene with his partner.
Ward, who has lived at Cotton Island for many years, said Bigfoot began showing up in her neck of the woods earlier this week.
The first report came from the fisherman who reported seeing a Bigfoot while he was wading in a nearby lake.
"He told us he was in the brake and (Bigfoot) walked up on him. It appeared that (Bigfoot) had a150-pound hog under his arm," Ward said the fisherman, reported the creature appearedto be 7 feet tall and covered in black hair. When their eyes met, they briefly stared at each other and then Bigfoot darted off into the surrounding woods, the fisherman said.
"He said that when he took off, he (Bigfoot) was kind of hunched over," Ward said. "And he smelled bad." People who have reported seeing Bigfoot creatures at close range report the creatures smell bad and are very hairy. They are also known to avoid people.
The area where Ward lives, Cotton Island, is very remote and is in low-lying country that floodsduring periods of heavy rain. The recent drought has left many of the water sources dry, making access to her land easier.
At a bait shop on a dirt road near Ward's home, friends and neighbors had gathered to talk aboutthe creature which had been spotted by loggers earlier in the morning. Tracks left by the creature were still clearly visible in the now-dry Boggy Bayou.
"This is the third time he's been seen in this area," Ward said before going down to Boggy Bayou and pointing out the strange tracks.
Darrell Clark, who said he has hunted and fished in the area all his life, said the tracks are veryunusual.
"I ain't never seen anything like this in all my life," Clark said.
In the mud, the tracks look fresh. Measured at about 14 inches long, they follow the bayou for about10 yards and then appear to go up an embankment and back into the forest.
Stefanie Neal of Deville said she hasn't seen or heard Bigfoot, but the tracks in Boggy Bayou havemade her a believer.
"Everybody's been talking about it. I didn't believe it until I saw the prints," Neal said.
Johnny and Sissy Johnson, who live in the area, said they have heard strange noises at night - noises possibly uttered by Bigfoot.
"It sounds like an elk hollerin'," Johnny Johnson said.
Scott Kessler, a Pineville fireman and investigator for the Louisiana chapter of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization, was planning on going to the area and taking plaster casts of the footprints as well as having the hairs tested, following an investigation.
Kessler has been tracking Bigfoot sightings in central Louisiana for four years and has had several encounters with a creature he believes is a Bigfoot.
Most sightings of "Bigfoot," also sometimes called Sasquatch, have been reported in the PacificNorthwest. Most scientists are not convinced of Bigfoot's existence, saying many of the reported sightings actually involved apes or bears or hoaxes.

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