Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Update on Orang-Pendek Sighting

Loren Coleman has updated the story of the orang-pendek sighting in the rainforest of Sumatra over at his Cryptomundo site.I will not summarize it here as you are all capable of reading it for yourself. It is quite interesting. So far, things look promising.

Check the story out here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Texas Bigfoot Conference Wrap-up

I just returned from the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Tyler, Texas. I've got to say that the line up of speakers was sensational. Attendees were treated to a virtual who's who in the field of serious sasquatch research. Some of the highlights are summarized below.

Primate biologist Esteban Sarmiento gave a very informative talk on great ape anatomy. He discussed physical characteristics of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans and then compared what is known about these great apes versus physical characteristics and locomotion demonstrated by the sasquatch filmed by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin at Bluff Creek in 1967.

Baylor University sociology professors Chris Bader and Carson Mencken presented the results of two different surveys they undertook regarding the demographics of those who casually believe the sasquatch is a real animal versus those who seriously research the sasquatch phenomenon. This survey will be available soon online at the TBRC website and, hopefully, here on this site. The results were quite interesting and in direct contrast to the way researchers are often portrayed in the media.

Wildlife biologist and naturalist John Mioncynzski spoke about the strategies he and Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University are using in their North American Ape Project. He spoke about plant surveys which can help indicate if there is enough food in a given area to support an animal the size of a sasquatch, discussed advantages of gigantism for survival, and several other fascinating tidbits which really got me thinking about some ways to tweak existing research strategies. I was also privileged to hear about Mioncynzski's own encounter with what he believes was a sasquatch back in the early 1970s. This encounter was featured prominently on The History Channel's Giganto: The Real King Kong. His story of having his tent collapsed by the creature and then having pinecones lobbed at him from the brush for the rest of the evening was mesmerizing.

Maybe the true high point of the conference was the banquet that evening featuring adventurer, wildlife author, and naturalist Peter Matthiessen as keynote speaker. Matthiessen is revered by wildlife experts the world over for his research on the snow leopard of the Himalayas. Matthiessen held the audience rapt with stories of his adventures. He discussed his own sighting of what may very well have been a yeti in a remote and, at that time, previously unexplored Himalayan valley, his work with early bigfoot researchers such as John Green and Rene Dahinden, and his plans for writing a book on the subject of the sasquatch. It was truly a once in a lifetime chance to hear this man speak.

Other conference speakers were Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins, Jerry Hestand, Bill Draginis, Dr. John Bindernagle, and Loren Coleman. All of these speakers did an outstanding job and only added to the professional and scientific nature of the conference.

One special treat was a guest appearance by none other than Bob Gimlin. Gimlin was present when Roger Patterson filmed what is generally considered the most compelling video evidence of a sasquatch ever captured. The film has been dissected ad nauseum over the years. It has supporters and detractors. For various reasons I've always felt it was likely genuine. Hearing Gimlin personally recount the events of that day was a once in a lifetime experience. I can also tell you that Bob Gimlin is one of the nicest people I've met anywhere.

The conference rejuvenated me to a large degree. It is so easy to become jaded and fed up with the shenanigans that go on in this field. Things like the Georgia hoax, negative media portrayals of the subject, and Biscardiesque snake-oil salesmen hoping to exploit the phenomenon for a buck all take their toll on those of us who try to go about documenting this animal in a serious and scientific manner. It is so easy to become discouraged. I find the fire in my belly rekindled. I can't wait to get back out in the field.

In addition, the conference gave me several ideas for future entries. I think, too, I will do a series of write-ups on "The Classics" of sasquatch encounters over the years. In addition, I would also like to do a series of write-ups on the most commonly used arguments used to dismiss the possible existence of this animal and my thoughts on whether said arguments are valid.

So, I guess I will be hanging around and doing this a little while longer. It continues to be a fun ride.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Expedition Sights Orang Pendek

The report below was posted by Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo.

“Yeti sighted in Jungle !!!! Two team members have sighted the Yeti while we were in the jungle. I heard a large animal moving towards us. Subsequently the creature was then sighted by team member Dave Archer and Sahar Didmus, a forest ranger. I have a sworn affadavit from Sahar to that effect. It hid from us by a tree, before moving rapidly and bipedally through the jungle. Dave describes the OP [Orang Pendek] as looking almost chimpanzee-like. Sahar was so upset and disturbed he began sobbing, and I had to comfort him. We have taken hair samples found at the site, and bagged some rattan which it was eating. We will have these analysed by Todd Disotell. Numerous tracks also found……………!!!!!!!!” ~ Adam Davies (enroute out of Indonesia via Singapore)

If true, this could be a ground breaking event which opens the door to more extensive research on cryptids the world over. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the evidence Adam Davies brings home is strong enough to prove the existence of these creatures.

More as details roll in...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Cat Project Update

I fought off some unseasonably hot September Texas weather and a stomach virus in order to go out check on Camera #3 this past weekend. I removed the old film, loaded the camera with a new roll, and refreshed the batteries. I had the film developed that afternoon and found I only captured photos of deer and a raccoon.

I was excited, however, by the fact that the camera fired 89 times. I am limited to only 24 pictures due to it being a 35mm film camera but the number of shots triggered tells me that I am in a good spot with this camera. I might have done better as far as the variety of animals photographed if bad weather had not come through the area two days after I deployed the camera. The severe weather, no doubt, caused a lot of swaying of vegetation and trees which triggered the camera quite a few times. Unfortunately, this ate up most of the 24 exposures on the roll of film. I am quite curious as to what I missed once the camera ran out of film. I plan on upgrading to digital cameras as soon as possible. This spot will be where I place the first upgrade.

The Top 5 Scariest Cryptids

I came across a fun post on The Gralien Report blog-site where the writer lists the five scariest cryptids in the world. None of the cryptids listed roam the Lone Star State but it is a fun post. I was especially interested in the "batsquatch" of Washington State. Supposedly, this creature was photographed. I will try to find online images of these photos.

You can check out the list here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Native American Perspective

"Why do you want to hunt the wild men? My children, they are a tribe even as are we. They have families, hunt, fish, and procreate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone.”

- Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Plano Panther Revisited

I received an email from a reader last night shortly after posting the account of a possible black panther sighting in Plano, Texas. The emailer lives in the Plano/Frisco area and had some great thoughts on why a big cat in this, seemingly unlikely, area might not be so far fetched. The email, minus personal information, is below:

A big cat in the Frisco area may seem out of place when you google the location, but Frisco is one of the newest suburbs in the country. Just a few years ago it was a rural area, but it quickly began to grow. It grew so quickly thet Frisco was recognized as the fastest growing city in the country.

However, there is one area of Frisco that would still make a good habitat for big cats. The location is called Brinkman Ranch, which is a several hundred acre area of land that also served as the original set for the television series, Dallas until the house burned and the set was moved elsewhere. However, this land is still private and unsettled.

It would have been a likely location for any wild animals to flee to as residential neighborhoods sprung up all around the ranch. What throws a kink into this is the fact that a guy in a white truck patrols Brinkman Ranch every night, with a spotlight, and shoots at coyotes with a rifle. I have personally seen coyotes fleeing the ranch and heading into the suburban neighborhoods. So, with the only suitable habitat for coyotes and potential big cats being a kill zone, the animals have no choice but to move into the suburban areas which are a safer place to be, in this case, than the open fields and woodlands of the Brinkman Ranch. So it does not surprise me that a theoretical big cat would be seen in such a location as it was. The growth of the city from a rural area into a sprawling suburb has outpaced the average life expectancy of these animals. Therefore, there technically could be these types of animals that never made it out as the city grew around them. I've seen coyotes as far south as the north Dallas area along railroad tracks and running through neighborhoods at night.

I think this reader makes some valid points as to how big cats, as well as other species, might find themselves "locked in" and surrounded by suburban sprawl. I think this is clearly a contributing factor in sightings of big cats in urban areas. I do think there may be more to it, however. As I stated in the original post on this subject, I believe that big cats may be making the same adjustment that coyotes have made so successfully. Namely, they are learning to live in close proximity to people. For example, a report of a 60 plus pound black cat was received by police in Wheaton, Illinois on September 9. Wheaton is a suburb of Chicago, one of the largest and most heavily populated cities in the country. A woman jogging in Northside Park with her large dog allegedly spotted a large long-tailed cat that, other than its black color, resembled a cougar. The woman judged the size and weight of the animal by comparing it to her 60 pound dog. The woman said the cat was bigger than her dog but fled when said dog approached it. According to the report, Northside Park is largely surrounded by homes but does connect to a swampy area called Lincoln Marsh. This incident shares much in common with the sighting my reader reported of a black panther in the Plano, Texas area.

So, keep your eyes open and your cameras at the ready when out on those evening or early morning walks. You just never what you might come across or, as the case may be, what might come across you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Plano Panther?

I received an interesting email from a reader a couple of days ago. This gentleman claims to have spotted a large black cat off of highway 121 in Plano, Texas. The email, minus the reader's contact information, is printed below:

Last night I was walking my dogs (we walk around midnight where I live in Lewisville, TX) and they let me know that there was something else nearby. I looked along the creek bank that was maybe 30 feet away and clearly some some kind of feline, maybe the size of a coyote, furtively running back the way we had come. It was lighter in color, so I'm guessing a bobcat or something.

Anyway, it reminded me of an incident 2-3 weeks ago that happened when I was driving to work in Plano at around 9:00-9:15 in the morning. I had exited Hwy 121 and turned South onto Parkwood Blvd (East of the Dallas North Tollway - if you want to map it), and in the field to my left (now facing South), I saw a large, sleek charcoal-colored cat with a long tail running across the field toward the tree line that separates it from the field next to it. This thing was easily the size of a large dog (labrador, doberman, etc.), and while it was "galloping", it was covering significant ground without noticeable strain. I only saw it for maybe 10 seconds or so before I lost sight (I was going about 30mph Southbound).

I was looking around to see if I could find out what it might have been and came across your site. It looked a lot like the large black cat shown on this page:

Anyway, I don't have any evidence or anything more than what I've told you, but thought you might be interested all the same. Seems a bit of a populated area to be spotting something as elusive as a black panther, but then, for a couple of weeks we had a coyote couple hanging out in the field just SE of the intersection of Parkwood Blvd. and Tennyson Pkwy. in Plano (the field is a building now, but my office is on the 3rd floor facing it, so we had fun watching them in the tall grass before they cleared the field).

I checked the area of the sighting out via google maps and it certainly seems an unlikely spot for a big cat sighting of any kind. However, the area is a bit unique in that there are fairly large tracts of what appears to be farm land interspersed among the many building and roads. I am assuming the tracts of land are being used for agriculture as when I switched to the "satellite" view of the area the land appeared to have been recently plowed. This sort of situation is becoming more common in Texas as urban areas sprawl outward. Some long time farmers in my area, for example, are completely surrounded by strip malls or housing developments yet refuse to sell and continue working their land.

In any case, it has become clear that some predators have adapted better than others to living in close proximity to people. Coyotes are probably the most successful in this regard. Bobcats also seem to be making this adjustment. I have a theory that the larger cats have learned to do the same. Being solitary animals, large cats like cougars, jaguarundi, etc., could remain hidden fairly easily even in a somewhat urban setting. Creek beds, canals, drainage ditches, and riparian green belts could all serve as "highways" for these cats to move about. If they are moving primarily at dawn, dusk, or at night they are even more unlikely to be spotted. This is the hypothesis I am trying to verify with my current camera trapping project.

Recently, the show MonsterQuest did a show on feral dogs called, I believe, The Real Cujo. The show centered around a pack of wild feral dogs living in abandoned buildings in a rundown section of St. Louis, Missouri. It made me wonder if large cats might not be able to do the same in some urban areas. Again, just a theory but it could explain at least some sightings of big cats in areas where they should not be. Many would consider this hypothesis, at best, highly unlikely. However, people are seeing big cats and they have to be coming from somewhere, right?

My thanks to this reader for taking the time to contact me. I would be very interested in hearing from others who have seen big cats or other strange and/or unusual animals.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Cat Project Update

I thought I would provide an update on my camera-trapping project...

I managed to get out and check Cameras 1 and 2 this past weekend. Camera 1 performed well. The entire roll of film was used giving me a total of 24 pictures. Unfortunately, no cats were photographed. While nearly all the pictures were of deer, I was encouraged to get a good photo of a coyote. The photo, below, clearly shows the coyote sniffing a tree, which I had sprayed down pretty good with some scent bait. This would seem to indicate that the scent I have concocted does appeal to predators. I will continue to experiment with different scents and food baits until I get something that appeals more to my feline targets.

The results from Camera 2 were a huge disappointment. I failed to get a picture of any kind of animal at all. You may recall, if you read my post after setting this camera out, that I was very excited about the location of this camera. I was really anticipating some good shots of local wildlife. I would have thought the camera was not functioning properly except it did snap several photos. Mostly, I got photos of the trail with no animal in sight. Whether these photos were the result of false triggers or near misses due to slow shutter speed I can't say. I was shocked to get a series of photos of a couple of hikers. I would not have guessed I would get any human activity in this spot at all. Fortunately, the hikers did not take the camera. As a matter of fact, judging by their position in the pictures, they never even saw the camera.

I left Camera 1 in place with new batteries and film, as it has been very productive. I refreshed the batteries and film in Camera 2 and left it in place as well. Despite the lack of productivity it really seems like a perfect spot. If it produces nothing after four more weeks I will relocate it. I have found some great looking spots for future camera deployments in the same area.

Camera 3 is due to be refreshed in two weeks. I really liked the spot where this camera was deployed. I hope it works out better than the location of Camera 2.

2009 Texas Bigfoot Conference

I just wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Texas Bigfoot Conference coming up on Saturday 9/26 in Tyler, Texas. The conference will be held at the Tyler Caldwell Auditorium located at 300 South College Avenue. The contact number for the Caldwell Auditorium is 903-262-2300.

The TBRC has lined up a very impressive group of speakers featuring wildlife author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen, artist Robert Swain, primate biologist Esteban Sarmiento, wildlife biologist John Bindernagel, Baylor sociologists Chris Bader and Carson Mencken, wildlife biologist and naturalist John Mioncynzski, video developer Bill Dranginis, and cryptozoologist, author, and zoologist Loren Coleman. TBRC members who will speak include Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins, and Jerry Hestand. TBRC member Brian Brown will emcee the event and host a roundtable discussion Saturday night featuring all the guest speakers and TBRC chairman Craig Woolheater.

General admission tickets will be sold for $15. Educators and students of the Tyler ISD will receive $5 off the price of admission with a school ID. The conference is truly a bargain for anyone interested in the subject of bigfoot.

The conference is sponsored by the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC). The TBRC is funded by membership dues, fundraisers, this annual conference, donations, and grants. The TBRC desires to enhance the credibility of bigfoot/sasquatch research and facilitate a greater degree of acceptance by the scientific community and other segments of society of the likelihood of a biological basis behind the sasquatch mystery. The TBRC is a registered non-profit organization with the Internal Revenue Service.

So, if you are in East Texas on September 26th drop on by the Texas Bigfoot Conference. It should be fun and educational. I will be there and would enjoy meeting and visiting with anyone who follows this site.

See you there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mark Twain's Thoughts on Life

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

- Mark Twain

I think this is a great philosophy and one by which I try to live my life. It is certainly easier said than done but I don't want to wake up one day at 65-75 years of age and regret not having pursued my passions and interests as a younger man.

My thanks to my friend Alton Higgins for making me aware of this quote.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sasquatch Caught on Kentucky Game Camera?

There is a new photo making the rounds on the internet that was allegedly snapped by a game camera in Kentucky. Many are speculating that it could be a photograph of a sasquatch. I must admit that, while inconclusive, it is a bit more intriguing than the usual "blobsquatch" photos that have become too common.

Below is the news story about the photo and how it came about.

I'm not sure what appears in the photo. It just isn't clear enough. I do feel it, once again, shows how game cameras could be used to eventually document this species. Assuming the sasquatch is real, and I believe it is, it is just a matter of time until a clear photo is taken. Now whether a photo will be enough for mainstream science to recognize the existence of this animal is another question.