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There are big steps between fact, fiction

Robert Stanger

Famed primatologist Jane Goodall, who spoke before a very large and seemingly rapt audience at Youngstown’s Stambaugh Auditorium a few years ago, had this to say regarding the existence of “Bigfoot.”

“I’m fascinated and would actually love for them to exist,” she said in a newspaper interview. “Of course, it’s strange that there has never been a single authentic hide or hair of the Bigfoot, but I’ve read all the accounts.”

I certainly don’t know as I can say that I’d “love for them to exist” as if they did, this would certainly add a new dimension to ventures beyond the confines of our respective communities.

For their thorough enjoyment of the outdoors, the easily influenced among us who go afield should be certain that there are no strange, intangible “presences” out there.

It is said that about one person in 10 is a “Bigfoot believer.”

As for the “believers” the chance of an encounter with a black bear, while in the wilds, whether it be when afoot during the day or when snug in a tent at night, is certainly worry enough.

I thus decry those who report on startling “encounters” afield, with little or no plausible explanation as to what the source of their fright could have been.

When I look back on my past years, I can’t recall there being much discussion that a large, hairy creature that walks erect might exist out there in the hinterland.

It’s possible that the earliest such talk I can recall came after Britain’s Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first persons to reach the 29,035 foot summit of Mount Everest in the Himalayas on May 29, 1953.

There were reports then that the people of that area believed in the existence of yetis, or the Abominable Snowman.

But there is hardly any resemblance to the culture that gave rise to such beliefs, with ours.

To transfer their beliefs to ours of a people of limited education and who follow an ancient form of Buddhism led by the Dalai Lama in a land of immense mountains, yaks, snow leopards, prayer wheels and other manifestations of their religion, would require a cultural shift beyond comprehension.

However, during one of his expeditions after his conquest of Everest, Hillary sought proof of the existence of yetis or the Abominable Snowman.

No such evidence was found, instead footprints and tracks were proven to be from other causes.

During that expedition, Hillary traveled to remote temples which contained purported yeti scalps.

However, after bringing back three relics, two were shown to be from bears and one to be from a goat antelope.

“The yeti is not a strange, superhuman creature, as has been imagined. We have found rational explanations for most yeti phenomena,” Hillary said.

Sir Edmund Hillary of New Zealand died at age 88 in 2008.

There is certainly no belief in the scientific community that Bigfoot exists.

Phillips Stevens, a cultural anthropologist at the University at Buffalo, summarized the scientific consensus as follows:

“It defies all logic that there is a population of these things sufficient to keep them going. What it takes to maintain any species, especially a long-lived species, is you gotta have a breeding population,” Stevens said. “That requires a substantial number, spread out over a fairly wide area, where they can find sufficient food and shelter to keep hidden from all the investigators.”

My own personal belief is akin to that of Mr. Stevens

I think that there is about as much chance that Bigfoot, a.k.a. sasquatch, or yetis or the Abominable Snowman actually exist as there is that polar bears and alligators reside on Mars.

You might sum up the reasons for my disbelief in two words: “shelter” and “sustenance.”

There is no way that a tall, long-armed bipedal creature could find the high amount of calories it would need on a daily basis any place in North America from the food that might be at hand.

And there is also no chance that such a creature (described as just having “hair” on its body) could find the shelter it would need to protect it from the harsh elements of our weather.

There are no thermostats in lean-tos.

Robert Stanger has lived seasonally for over 40 years along the Allegheny River and has the stories to tell about it.

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