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Oregon ranks high in sasquatch sightings

For Oregonians looking to answer the Bigfoot critics and finally elevate the nearly mythical hairy backwoods brute from the science-fiction section to biology books, you just might be in the right place.

Oregon has the highest rate of reported sasquatch sitings per capita for a state without a sales tax, according to data collected by the Bigfoot Field Research Organization that for decades has hoped to prove it’s real.

The BFRO’s official Oregon sitings reports is 254, the group states. With 4.2 million residents, that means six reports per 100,000 residents — not exactly worth betting a stimulus check but at least a fighting chance to have a good cocktail party story.

“Oregon is definitely one of the best states to see a sasquatch in the world,” said Matt Moneymaker, executive director of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization and start of a handful of Bigfoot-chasing cable television shows.

If you don’t like those odds, move to Washington where the BFRO has logged 8.9 reported sightings per 100,000 residents. But be warned: You will be hit with a sales tax.

And Southern Oregon ranks high intra-state as well, with areas around Woodrat Mountain and elsewhere in the Applegate showing up somewhat regularly in BFRO report logs.

But the Southern Oregon story isn’t so much as seeing a Bigfoot lurking in the woods, Moneymaker said. There’s a lot more hearing primal screams associated with the unproven species than actual visuals here, he said.

“It’s just down there, you’re more likely to hear them,” Moneymaker said.

“We got an awful lot of reports from Oregon that were sound-only reports, and we don’t post most of those,” Moneymaker said. “We just have to be judicious.”

The most recent report from Southern Oregon came to the BFRO July 21 when an Applegate man reported hearing several unnatural howls in 2003 on federal lands across from his Upper Applegate Road residence.

“We’ve got so many people who say it’s the scariest thing they’ve ever heard,” Moneymaker said. “But he was talking about a low pitch that puts it out of the realm of coyotes or owls.”

Knowing the Bigfoot story is part of the Pacific Northwest state citizenship test and a phenomenon woven into the backwoods fabric of a region that still has the call of the wild rustling through its trees.

Bigfoot, or sasquatch, is a huge, hairy, ape-like creature that purportedly roams the forests of the Pacific Northwest, spending the majority of its time scaring hikers and campers and forever eluding capture or even physical detection.

In Iran, they call it Lehti. Similar critters in Florida are called Swamp Creatures. In fact, the BFRO has logged reporter sitings in every U.S. state except Hawaii.

Hundreds of people are convinced they’ve seen a Bigfoot. In 2000, a Grants Pass psychologist named Matthew Johnson swears he saw one spying on his family during a hike at Oregon Caves National Monument in the Siskiyou Mountains.

But science doesn’t recognize the creature as taxonomically legit, and only a Bigfoot body will settle the score.

Moneymaker, however, believes simply tranquilizing one, getting its DNA and letting it go should suffice the scientific world.

Most cryptozoologists will tell you that if Bigfoot is real, it likely is a surviving version of gigantopithecus. That was the world’s largest primate when it inhabited the forests of China and India from as far back as 9 million years ago. The youngest known remains date back about 500,000 years, but Bigfooters believe some version of that critter crossed into North America and eventually settled in Jackson County.

That’s part of the logic that the Forest Service used to allow a Bigfoot hunting groups to set up the only licensed Bigfoot trap on federal lands in 1974 near Applegate Lake in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

It caught a few beavers but no sasquatches on six years of operation, records show.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneHikers can check out a Bigfoot Trap on the Collings Mountain Trail near Applegate.
Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneHarry uses personal protective equipment Monday at Blackbird .