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The Bigfoot Legend Lives

Michael Dennett

Volume 16.1, March 2006

Within the span of a few years the Bigfoot community has lost its two primary proponents, René Dahinden and Grover Krantz. Most of the remaining “old guard” have retired. Revelations of hoaxing by the late Ray Wallace and Greg Long’s book The Making of Bigfoot (questioning the credibility of the famous Patterson film) would seemingly have dealt a death blow to the legend.

But promotion of the giant North American bipedal creature, also known as Sasquatch, seems to be in resurgence. This burst of activity comes from a new generation of Bigfoot proponents. Prominent among them are author and educator Loren Coleman and Idaho State University’s Jeffrey Meldrum. Christopher Murphy’s 2004 book Meet the Sasquatch has gathered considerable media attention and Daniel Perez, with his Bigfoot Times newsletter, has become the movement’s chronicler.

To those reporting stories about the big guy we must add the “field researchers.” In the forefront are Richard Noll, discoverer of the only “full body cast of the Bigfoot monster,” and C. Thomas Biscardi. Recently Biscardi and his Great American Bigfoot Research Organization caught media attention by claiming the capture of a Bigfoot. By the time I contacted Great American’s publicity agent, Robert Barrows, the assertion had already evaporated. Barrows’s casual explanation: “Tom [Biscardi] believed a woman’s declaration she had a Sasquatch,” though later she turned out to “be crazy.”

The Bigfoot community was not so nonchalant. Dan Perez headlined a short article about the incident: “Biscardi’s Bull Crap.” The article, written by Loren Coleman, [1] said Biscardi “fumbled along” when interviewed about the alleged capture “first saying it [Bigfoot] was 800 pounds, then telling [the interviewer] that he hadn’t said how much it weighed, only that it was over eight feet tall.” Coleman elaborated: Biscardi “hadn’t even seen it . . . but [somehow] knew it was seventeen years old.” He further warned of Biscardi’s “checkered Marxian past,” a reference to Bigfooter Ivan Marx, [2] not Groucho Marx.

Yet the Great American Web site still proclaimed: “Imminent Capture [of Bigfoot] Anticipated.” I asked Biscardi, who bills himself as a “world famous Bigfoot researcher,” how he might bag the monster when others had been unsuccessful.

“Because nobody has the technical equipment, or the experience we have,” he told me in a telephone interview from Happy Camp, California. They had, he assured me, “identified a migration pattern” for the creature and with the “most powerful stun gun available,” they would catch a Sasquatch alive. “There would be no killing [of a creature] and after science had thirty days to examine the animal,” Biscardi would “release it back to the wild.”

More revealing was his boast their cameras had seen an encounter between “a bear and Bigfoot on 12 September” [2005 near Happy Camp] and broadcast this via their subscription-only Webcam (see the December 2005 Briefs Briefs). Later when I asked for information about the encounter story the editor of the Happy Camp News, Linda Martin, a sort of pit-bull defender of the Biscardi expedition (because it was bringing much need attention and cash to the community), gave a different story. According to her account, someone claimed they saw the encounter via Webcam with the Bigfoot approaching the bear from the nearby spring, but when “we looked for this incident on the video archive and saw the bear walking down the path—but no Bigfoot . . . in fact we could find nothing coming out of the spring.” Martin was oblivious to the fact that once again Biscardi was flippantly making extraordinary yet unsupported assertions. Oddly, when we spoke on the phone Martin had attacked Coleman’s credibility by saying he had misappropriated another Bigfooter’s photos. [3]

Brandon Tennant, a protégée of Jeff Meldrum who is organizing a Bigfoot Conference to be held in Pocatello, Idaho in 2006 said he thought Biscardi “might be giving the field a bad name,” something — considering the past history of Bigfoot research — that would be quite an achievement.

Biscardi told me he has Web subscribers in sixty-five countries, has had great response to his efforts and doesn’t care if others, especially those not “in the field,” criticize him. He called Coleman and Perez “bottom feeders.” But at least tepid support for Biscardi can be found. Veteran Bigfoot buff Jon-Erik Beckjord, who on his Web site compares himself to Galileo, Pasteur, and the Wright Brothers, says Great American should continue the effort. “They may get some images,” Beckjord said. “But not a live creature?” I asked. “Of course not, and you know why,” he replied. Having been exposed to Beckjord’s theories I answered: “Because Bigfoot is inter-dimensional?” “Yes, or possibly a time-shifter,” and therefore when injured or killed it would return to its own dimension or time.

If Biscardi is really on the trail of the monster, by the time you read this, you will have already seen the big story on television.

When I talked with Biscardi I promised him I would mention his Web site in my article. As others were also helpful I would like to give their contact information as well.

Notes

  1. Coleman is not always as combative and was most generous with information when I queried him for this article.
  2. John Green once called the late Ivan Marx the biggest “yarn-spinner in California.” For more about Marx’s dubious activities see Sasquatch by Don Hunter and René Dahinden, Signet 1973, chapter 8.
  3. For more on this issue see Bigfoot Times, newsletter, October-November 2005 issue, front page.

Michael Dennett

Michael Dennett, who headed the Seattle area skeptics group Society for Sensible Explanations for over two decades, died May 2, 2009; he was fifty-nine years old. He had been diagnosed with leukemia and hospitalized for several months.

Mike was an investigative writer perhaps best known to Skeptical Inquirer readers for his research into Bigfoot, on which his first feature-length article was published in 1981. He was one of the first skeptical investigators to challenge Bigfoot claims, doing research into claims of dermal ridges (“Bigfoot fingerprints”) and hoaxed tracks. He was a meticulous researcher, a careful investigator, and a true skeptic who called out fakery and pseudoscience when he saw it but was careful not to belittle or criticize people for their beliefs.

Dennett’s research went far beyond Bigfoot, and he wrote about topics as varied as fire-walking, the Bermuda Triangle, UFOs, the Salem witch trials, and psychics. He also contributed to Psychic Sleuths, The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, The Outer Edge, and other books. Born June 20, 1949, Mike was a 1971 graduate of Norwich University and a former Army Captain, paratrooper, and Ranger. Though his day job was selling municipal water systems, his academic loves were history, skepticism, and writing alternative-history science fiction. He is survived by his wife, Lois. His final article, “Science and Footprints” (about contradictions in accounts of the 1967 Patterson/Gimlin film, the “best evidence” for Bigfoot), was published in the November/December 2008 Skeptical Inquirer.