By JEAN HAVENS
The legend of Bigfoot has been around for generations, and because of television programs such as “Finding Bigfoot,” interest in the creature is keener today than ever.
Evidence as to whether Bigfoot exists prompted representatives of MidAmerica Bigfoot Research Center to gather at their second annual Bigfoot Symposium, held last weekend at the Stilwell Community Center.
Jim Whitehead, western state director of the center, said he receives many questions about Bigfoot. Basic queries range from “How can they stay hidden?” to “Have you ever seen Bigfoot?”
“People are shocked when I say, ‘Yes, I’ve seen Bigfoot,’” said Whitehead. “He’s a flesh-and-blood creature, and to find evidence of their existence, you just need to recognize the signs. The ones I’ve seen were out in western Oklahoma and were really stocky, tall and bigger than me. The face on them was human-like but wider.”
According to Whitehead, these creatures will do anything to survive. They drop on all fours quite often. They have problem-solving skills; that’s not unusual, he said because many animals – like parrots and crows – have those types of thinking abilities.
He places Bigfoot closer to the human genus than any other animal.
“If they were closer to apes, they would have been discovered before now,” he said.
Whitehead first saw Bigfoot when he was a child, on the other side of his bedroom window. Later, science became his field of study, and when he spotted Bigfoot again, he realized what he’d seen as a child.
“When you see them, it’s on their terms,” said Whitehead. “They don’t run out and expose themselves.”
Carl Hartline, technical expert and mid-south regional director of the organization, said the group is global, with researchers based in such places as England, New Zealand and Australia.
“Before Bigfoot came into the limelight, due to the early documentaries on the subject, people would think you were crazy to have seen a big, hairy creature,” Hartline said. “Since then, there are more people coming out saying they’ve seen him.”
Hartline, who lives in Tulsa, said there have been sightings at Mohawk Park, south of Sapulpa and around Skiatook.
“They’ve even been seen on the east and west sides of Oklahoma City,” Hartline said. “Tahlequah is a hotbed for sightings. There have been sightings along the Illinois River, near Fourteen-Mile Creek and north of Hulbert.”
Oklahoma is prime turf for Bigfoot
According to Hartline, Oklahoma is a good area for Bigfoot to live because it’s wooded, there’s lots of water and many four-legged animals for food, and the vegetation is great during the winter months.
“I believe as civilization continues to encroach on their territory, they’ll start raiding Dumpsters, like the bears at Yellowstone do,” said Hartline.
Those attending were curious about the existence of Bigfoot. Many brought their children and grandchildren, who find the idea of the creature interesting and exciting.
Joey Dickinson and his 8-year-old daughter, Aubrey, thought the footprint plaster casts and other evidence were “really neat.”
“My daughter loves it,” said Dickinson. “We watch the TV shows on this stuff, and we decided to check out what the symposium had for us to see.”
Jake Farmer, 16, believes in Bigfoot.
“My brother had some chickens that we always let out in the yard,” said Jake. “They always stayed there. But one day, when we returned home, they were gone. There were no bodies or anything.”