April 26, 2015

Mistaking a Bear for a Bigfoot?

The Hunt Is On: Tuscaloosa woman founds Bigfoot group

Tuscaloosa native Mary Katherine Scruggs said her first encounter with the creature she calls Bigfoot occurred on a warm spring night in 2013. Scruggs’ family lived in a secluded area in northwest Tuscaloosa, where her nearest neighbors are miles away.

Sitting in a swing underneath a grove of oak trees, Scruggs said she and her son, Victor, became alarmed when a long guttural growl penetrated the air from behind their house. Scruggs, who lived in the country all her life, said it sounded like a man being ripped 
to shreds.

A few minutes later, the growl grew closer, coming from behind her house. Scruggs’ five German Shepherds fell silent, she said. Frightened, she and Victor Scruggs fled inside their home.

“We knew nothing about Bigfoot,” Scruggs said. “I wasn’t a believer. I wasn’t a skeptic. I didn’t know anything about it, but then I started watching ‘MonsterQuest’ and ‘Finding Bigfoot.’ I started playing with it in my head.”

Bigfoot sightings have been reported all across North America. Dana Ehret, a paleontologist at The University of Alabama, grew up with stories like the Jersey Devil ingrained into his childhood. Ehret said he finds sightings of Bigfoot fascinating on a social aspect, but he doesn’t believe they 
are real.

“A giant seven-foot primate living in the United States going undetected is just impossible,” he said. “We would have found evidence of it by now. The world is shrinking smaller and smaller. I think a seven-foot-tall primate running around Alabama would be seen pretty quickly.”

Scruggs said the growls surrounding her house continued for the next few weeks, coming from the wood line near her house. She and her husband turned the occurrences into a joke. Every evening she would mimic the yells, and every evening, she said it would yell back at her.

But Scruggs said the growls soon turned aggressive and frightened her. During a bad thunderstorm, Scruggs and her husband were watering their cattle when they were surrounded by screaming so loud, Scruggs said she could feel it vibrating her chest.

Jeffery Lozier, a biologist at the University, said scientists never say anything is impossible, but he, too, is skeptical of the existence of a creature like Bigfoot. Lozier said Scruggs might have encountered a mountain lion. Most people probably could have gone their entire lives in the area, Lozier said, and never have seen one. Every time Lozier goes into the forest, he said, he encounters something he’s never seen before.

One of the reasons Ehret believes people jump to Bigfoot when they hear a strange noise versus an animal like a bobcat is their fascination with the unknown. He said it’s fun to consider these creatures being real, but people should recognize they don’t exist.

A few days later, Scruggs said she saw Bigfoot for the first time. She said she could see the silhouette of the creature squatting in the woods before standing up eight feet in height.

Based on analysis, Lozier suggested Scruggs might have seen a black bear in the woods. Based on sightings and records, the places where Bigfoot would live are the same areas populated by black bears.

“It’s very easy to mistake a bear for something like a Bigfoot,” he said. “A lot of times they will stand up on their hind legs. They actually leave footprints that are very similar when they slide through mud. I imagine if you saw a black bear on it’ hind legs at dusk, your mind would play tricks on you, too.”

Scruggs insisted it wasn’t like any animal she had ever seen. For the next year, she said she was a prisoner within her own home. She refused to go outside by herself, and she made sure she kept a loaded pistol with her at all times.

“I know what I saw,” she said. “Before that, I was always outgoing. Growing up, the woods was my playground.”

Many creatures like Bigfoot were created for a variety of different reasons based in reality, Ehret said. The Griffin, a winged animal in the Middle East, was inspired by dinosaur skeletons, and the cyclops was based on the skulls of elephants.

Ehret thinks Bigfoot could have its origins in Native American lore, which used mythological creatures as part of its belief system, and was passed down from generation to generation over the years. He said creatures like Bigfoot were used to scare people.

In 2009, Lozier wrote an academic paper using Sasquatch as an example to show how convincing species models could be based on questionable inaccurate public data. The tongue-in-cheek paper used eyewitness accounts and footprint recordings to show species distribution for Bigfoot and how many of the sitings could be a case of mistaken identity.

Both Lozier and Ehret said it was possible that a creature like Bigfoot existed billions of years ago. At one time, giant apes and seven-foot grass sloths roamed the earth, but both professors said they don’t believe Bigfoot is going to be found.

Lozier said there’s not enough credible evidence to support Bigfoot. He said there would have to be many Bigfoot creatures running around in the woods to have a sustainable population. The odds of not coming across one, he said, would be unlikely.

“It boggles the mind there wouldn’t be pictures or a dead body or a skeleton,” Lozier said. “We find skeletons of things that have been extinct for millions of years, so why wouldn’t we find a skeleton of a creature that died weeks ago?”

The reason for the recent activity in Tuscaloosa, Scruggs said, is due to deforestation in northern Tuscaloosa. Forests had been stripped to nothing but bare land. She believes they lost their homes and had nowhere else to go.

“I’m not trying to stop the timber cutting,” she said. “They’re welcome to stay there as long as they don’t hurt my dogs. I would love to see some type of law to protect them, so they won’t be harassed.”

Citing several hoaxes involving fake Bigfoot corpses, Ehret said some opportunists use people’s belief in Bigfoot to gain notoriety and fame, but Scruggs, an ordained minister, insisted she isn’t lying.

“Why would I want to destroy my reputation?” Scruggs said. “My words will not change when I stand before the Lord.”


About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

Filed under Bigfoot, Bigfoot Report, Cryptozoology, Evidence, Eyewitness Accounts, Pop Culture, Sasquatch