By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Once an eyewitness files a report with the TBRC, the investigators follow up by phone, and if possible, visit the site of the incident. If the sighting was fairly recent, the researchers look for Bigfoot signs--tree breaks or twists, hair, blood and, of course, tracks. "We do have a lot of areas where we're finding the tree twists...and to be able to actually twist it against the grain, it takes more than just a large animal leaning up against the tree and breaking it. It has to apply torque, and that almost requires a thumb to be able to do," Woolheater says. Investigators also try to judge whether the sighting area would even be habitable for Bigfoot, offering adequate food, water and shelter.
Despite a growing quantity of evidence, the public remains doubtful about its quality. "You should be skeptical about cases where there should be some more evidence, some better evidence, and there isn't," says John Blanton of the North Texas Skeptics, a Dallas-area group that promotes the use of science in exploring extraordinary happenings. "We wouldn't consider this paranormal, because this is within the realm of possibility. If there's some large creature, an ape-like creature, and he's managed to elude our discovery all this time, more power to him. But it would be a pretty difficult thing to do."
Bigfoot trackers explain anomalies such as inconsistent track shapes and toe number with genetics. As Moore put it, "We're in the South; we've got things hanging out in the woods. It's got to be inbreeding." A small genetic pool would also account for the Bigfoot aggressiveness that has been reported in the South and not in the Northwest. And since no carcasses or skeletons have been found, researchers reason that maybe Bigfoot bury or cannibalize their dead or, like some animals, conceal themselves as they are dying.
Woolheater concludes that there are only a few choices. "Either people are out-and-out lying, or they are hallucinating, or they are being hoaxed by someone else unbeknownst to them, or they're misidentifying a known animal--or they saw what they say they saw. And I feel that at least part of them fall in that last category. And even if only one of them actually saw what they say they saw, then there's something out there."