Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recent Bigfoot Sightings in East Alabama

by Stephen Smith

There have been two Bigfoot sightings this year in Tallapoosa County in Eastern Central Alabama. Both were along Alabama State Road 22 near the town of New Site. The two sightings occurred approximately four miles apart from one another, the first on March 11 and the second on April 4. The witness, who wished to remain anonymous, described the beast to Jim Smith of the Alabama Bigfoot Society, as “very large, thick shouldered and tall. At least seven feet tall… [and] very dark brown.”

Though the lion's share of Bigfoot sightings take place in the Pacific Northwest, Alabama is a surprising hotbed of Sasquatchian activity. Jim Smith told the Birmingham Free Press that most of the sightings in Alabama occur around Mt. Cheaha and in the nearby counties of Tallapoosa, Talladega, Clay, and Randolph. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a bar in Waldo, AL called the Bigfoot Lounge, so named because of sightings in that area. The earliest recorded Bigfoot sightings in Alabama were in the early 1960s.

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), there have been over 60 sightings in the state since 1980. Nationally there have been over 3700 Bigfoot encounters in the same period, the majority of which have been in the last decade. That’s a lot of Bigfeet.

Smith believes the sightings are becoming more common because of logging activity in the Bigfoot habitat. He thinks there may be as many as 50-60 Bigfoot creatures in the forests of east Alabama.

Scientists remain skeptical of the existence of Bigfoot due to a supposed lack of physical evidence, but according to the BFRO, “[p]hysical evidence is found every month in various areas across the country. Distinct tracks that do not match other animal tracks, hairs that match each other but no known wild animals, and large scats that could not be made by any known species.”

It’s worth remembering that the gorilla was considered mythological until its existence was verified in 1902. The number of gorillas was estimated to be around 100,000 until another 125,000 were discovered in 2008 in the Republic of Congo. New species of mammals “discovered” in the past decade include the Annamite striped rabbit, the Arunachal monkey, the Australian snubfin dolphin, the blond capuchin, the Sunda clouded leopard, the collared peccary, the Dingiso, Goodman’s mouse lemur, the grey-faced elephant shrew, the highland mangabey, Jackson’s mongoose, the Laotian rock rat, the leaf deer, Lowe’s servaline genet, the Manicore marmoset, Mittermeier’s mouse lemur, the mountain brush-tailed possum, the Prince Bernhard titi, the Pygmy three-toed sloth, the Sambirano woolly lemur, the saola, the tube-lipped nectar bat, and the unfortunately named monkey. In addition to the nearly 100 mammals identified in the 21st century, Dr. Ian Poiner of the Australian Institute for Marine Science has estimated that there are at least 750,000 undiscovered species on this planet alone. Given the reality of the situation, the whole Bigfoot thing doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

There are a number of Native American Bigfoot legends. The term “sasquatch” is an anglicized derivative of one of the 60 or so native-American names for “big man” or “hairy man.” People that report sightings are by no means charlatans or particularly gullible. According to the BFRO, “[t]he patterns among eyewitnesses are not demographic, they are geographic—they are not reported by certain types of people, rather by people who venture into certain areas. This simple pattern suggests an external cause.”

What exactly Bigfoot is remains a mystery. Artist and Bigfoot researcher Charles Middleton believe the creature is “a relic of primitive man. Some think Homo erectus, some Homo heidelbergensis. As far as pure ape—no!” Jim Smith appears to agree, saying, "It may be an undiscovered ape, but I believe it will be an early evolution humanoid. My reason being it is much too intelligent."

Whatever one believes concerning the Bigfoot phenomenon, there is certainly no lack of evidence, anecdotal or otherwise. Past hoaxes have made the scientific community gun-shy but we here at the Birmingham Free Press want to believe.