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 sightings 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 organization’s official Oregon sightings 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 star of a handful of Bigfoot-chasing cable television shows.
If you don’t like those odds, move to Washington where the organization has logged 8.9 reported sightings per 100,000 residents. But be warned: You will be hit with a sales tax.
In Southern Oregon, it’s not so much about 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, 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.
“We’ve got so many people who say it’s the scariest thing they’ve ever heard.” 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 Bigfoot Field Research Organization has logged reported sightings in every U.S. state except Hawaii.
Hundreds of people are convinced they’ve seen a Bigfoot.
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 U.S. 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.