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What’s the Frequency, Kenne…, er, Sasquatch?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 1st, 2013

Bigfoot researchers for years have speculated that Bigfoots avoided game cameras because said cameras produced detectable audio emissions undetectable to humans but yet detectable by Bigfoots.

spearsquatch
Illustration by Rick Spears

What has a scientific study shown?

Testing of Game Cameras for Sound Emissions
By Bob Strain, Daryl Colyer, & Alton Higgins

Abstract

The North American Wood Ape Conservancy sent game cameras to a bioacoustics lab to determine whether or not the cameras produce detectable audio emissions potentially capable of deterring wildlife from approaching the vicinity of the cameras.

Introduction

Many observers note that the paucity of photographic evidence supporting the existence of an undocumented ape in North America is made even more remarkable in light of the (perceived) abundance of cameras available to capture images, particularly game cameras of the type used by hunters and wildlife researchers. Believing that high quality images could serve to help establish the existence of an unrecognized primate species as an important step in the scientific documentation process, the North American Wood Ape Conservancy invested tens of thousands of dollars in state-of-the-art game cameras. Operation Forest Vigil (2006-2011) was an ambitious five-year project during which scores of Cuddeback and Reconyx game cameras were deployed in remote locations where wood ape activity was strongly indicated by means of reports and member investigations and experiences.

Although thousands of images of native wildlife species were obtained, the operation failed to obtain a single photo of a wood ape.

NAWAC members initially hypothesized that animals of all types would ignore the cameras and behave normally in their presence. However, we soon learned this was not the case. For example, black bears (Ursus americanus) demonstrated great interest in the cameras, so much so that metal bear boxes had to be acquired to prevent camera destruction. As the operation progressed and years passed, speculation arose regarding whether the apes intentionally avoided the cameras, especially after learning that alpha coyotes have been known to facultatively avoid game cameras (Sequin, Jaeger, Brussard, & Barrett, 2003). Speculation also arose regarding the possibility that a subtle deficiency in the cameras themselves was responsible for the lack of photos.

The failure of the cameras, over a five-year period of extensive use, to photo-capture wood apes conflicted with the unequivocal experiences, observations, and physical trace evidence findings of members indicating that the creatures inhabited the area. Of special interest was the observation that, on a few occasions, the target species had been in the immediate vicinity of game cameras, yet no photos were captured. Upon further investigation, researchers noted that at least some of the game cameras were not operational at the time of nearby activity, leading us to wonder if noise was a factor. Although humans seem to be unable to detect sounds coming from operational cameras, some primates have been documented to have the ability to hear sounds above the range of human hearing (Heffner, 2004), leading us to hypothesize that game cameras generate sound emissions that may serve to alert animals to the presence of the cameras, enabling some species—particularly the wood ape—to remain undetected.

Materials and Methods

The capability to detect and quantify any high frequency or low frequency sounds from electronic equipment is a specialty, requiring extremely sensitive sensors and microphones. We explored different possibilities for the experiments we desired, but it was obvious an audiology laboratory was best suited to conduct this kind of analysis.

We contacted Martin L. Lenhardt, Ph.D., at the Bioacoustics Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. The bioacoustics lab, established in 1971, is part of the School of Engineering within the biomedical engineering program. The lab is directed at an understanding of the evolutionary biology of animal hearing. According to the lab’s web site, “Most projects over the last 25 years have been directed toward the study of bioeffects of noise, sound, vibration and ultrasound on hearing and behavior,” (Bioacoustics Lab, Virginia Commonwealth University, n.d.). The VCU Bioacoustics Lab sounded like the ideal place to address our questions, and Dr. Lenhardt generously agreed to conduct the necessary experiments at no cost.

A Reconyx HC600 was selected for evaluation and was sent to the lab in January 2013. Tarun Sinha performed the tests under the direction of Dr. Lenhardt. The first measurements were obtained using two different piezo sensors with wide frequency responses. The batteries and memory card were removed for the control measurements. The second round of measurements were obtained using a high frequency microphone and a Rion hand-held FFT signal analyzer.

Results

On 19 February 2013, following the first round of tests, Dr. Lenhardt notified us that the two piezo sensors with wide frequency responses detected no ultrasound and added, “We are not picking up any very low frequencies either.”

On 27 February 2013, Dr. Lenhardt relayed his final results after assessing the camera again. “There is no ultrasound. The camera operation is very low level. I can’t imagine sound is causing avoidance.”

After measurements from testing indicating no detectable levels of either low frequency (infrasound) or high frequency (ultrasound) sound waves, we must conclude that game camera sound frequencies that are undetectable to humans are not responsible for the seeming avoidance of game cameras by any animal species, including the North American wood ape.

Shared from the website of the NAWAC (North American Wood Ape Conservancy)
Formerly the TBRC (Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy)

Read the entire article including photos and references here.

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.


15 Responses to “What’s the Frequency, Kenne…, er, Sasquatch?”

  1. Anita Wittig via Facebook responds:

    interesting..although I think Sasquatches can figure it out when it’s taking pictures of other game, especially when you have a flash

  2. dconstrukt responds:

    very interesting…. also along those same lines… bigfoots could avoid humans because they’re able to smell them.

  3. sasquatch responds:

    Well, maybe there are just far far fewer of these “wood apes” out there, and it’s just a percentage game.
    The famous Pennsylvania picture is clearly a bear (to me anyway), so you can’t use it, the Maine photo-on Finding Bigfoot show etc. is definitely an owl…(one of the first things they heard on that show was an owl).
    So, I’d say, either don’t waste your $ on these cameras unless you already own one. You still COULD get lucky.
    Don’t go out into the woods making a bunch of noise.
    Go very quietly and/or on horseback. Don’t use deodorant or colognes, perfumes etc…Go to hunting areas OUT of season and try to access a tree stand/blind…wait, wait wait….
    Have your camera full of batteries and in stand by mode.

  4. G. de La Hoya responds:

    We should probably ask Dan Rather, a.k.a. “Kenneth”, what the hell is going on.

  5. Goodfoot responds:

    I wonder how many folks know the REAL origin of “Kenneth….”? I recall someone walked up to Dan Rather and asked him, “What is the frequency, Kenneth?”

    And sasquatch: I think that there must be a rather large population to account for the er… FREQUENCY of sightings. Maybe 60,000, at minimum, in North America. It could be ten times that; there’s a WHOLE LOT of empty space out there.

  6. Fhqwhgads responds:

    If you were to go to Africa and put up trail cams in a chimp, bonobo, or gorilla habitat, would you get pictures? Can they hear any odd sounds that scare them off? Establishing how known apes behave would seem to create a more useful baseline than pointless speculation about the inner ear of an unrecognized species. Heck, it might at least be good to ask middle school students if they can hear it, since their hearing is more sensitive to high frequencies than that of adults.

  7. Fhqwhgads responds:

    Reports of Bigfoot-like creatures from frontier days showed them to be fierce creatures who would occasionally attack humans, sometimes killing them and sometimes abducting them. Today’s Bigfoot, though, are wussies that are scared off by trail cameras.

    Likewise, the earliest report of Nessie indicates that the creature was a man-eater thwarted only by supernatural authority. Today, though, the creature only emerges from the water around people with no cameras, and even within the lake almost perfectly avoids cameras and sonar.

    There must be some reason for the timidity of modern cryptids. Given the time at which they suddenly became so bashful, perhaps the most reasonable hypothesis is that they were emasculated by the corrupting influence of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

  8. corrick responds:

    Just a thought. Maybe no “wood apes” exist to photograph.

  9. Goodfoot responds:

    corrick: That must be it! Thank you so much for sharing with us today.

  10. Fhqwhgads responds:

    @corrick

    Check out the Wikipedia article on “Snipe hunt”: “The origin of the term is a practical joke where inexperienced campers are told about a bird or animal called the snipe as well as a usually preposterous method of catching it, such as running around the woods carrying a bag or making strange noises such as banging rocks together.”

  11. Goodfoot responds:

    Fhqwhgads: (never asked you how to pronounce it, and I never will) You’re suggesting wood-knocking is like a snipe hunt, eh?

    Interesting. Some folks swear by it.

  12. Fhqwhgads responds:

    @Goodfoot

    The similarities are obvious. This is true even if you think Bigfoot is real; after all, there are real birds called snipe. Knowing human nature, you must know that many times Bigfoot hunting has been a case of snipe hunting. I don’t remember this being done precisely this way by my Boy Scout troop, but if not, it was only because they didn’t have the Internet. It was 100% consistent with their usual m.o. And the link I provided says this, which as far as I know is still true: “No Bigfoot has ever actually been seen beating a tree or creating such a sound, but there has been reports of people hearing the sounds of distant wood knocking throughout forests.” That doesn’t leave much to swear by, but it’s great material for a snipe hunt.

  13. DWA responds:

    Had to check in here to say that I am aware of at least three reports describing sasquatch seen in the act of wood-knocking.

    Not to mention that NAWAC researchers are almost unanimous that they do it, despite almost all of them doubting it before the start of their two extended field studies. Not that they have personally seen one doing it; but all of them have personally seen at least one, and wood-knocking was only one of a whole lot of things going on, generally at once, that sure don’t seem the work of suicide-bent hillbillies or ivorybill woodpeckers.

  14. Fhqwhgads responds:

    @DWA — Fair enough. You might want to share that information with the web site I linked to.

    On the other hand … this is exactly what you would say if your idea of funny is a bunch of gullible people walking through the woods banging sticks together thinking it will help them see a wood ape. “Hey, I read on the Internet that some guy I don’t know is aware of at least three reports of people claiming to have seen Sasquatch knocking wood together. Good enough for me!”

    As for the “suicidal” aspect of it, the first person I ever met (outside of maybe Troop 47) who said he was going Bigfoot-hunting was a young man in east Texas. He was fresh out of the army and had gone back to college (which is how I ran across him), but he had heard that a Bigfoot had been seen on a relative’s farm near Paris, TX. His plan was to sit in a tree all night with a rifle, and if he saw Bigfoot, we’d get that “hard evidence”. I was worried by this plan, but not for Sasquatch.

  15. DWA responds:

    Fhqwhgads: and fair enough. And here’s where we get into the subtleties that excite some people, and not others.

    Three reports isn’t proof. Tell me that three people have seen a unicorn, and I’ll ask you to point me to the unicorn database. If none exists, I’m not going to the zoologists with these three people. They don’t have to be liars; hallucinating; or even wrong. It’s just that when you are talking time and money and no other evidence that I am aware of, I’d rather find out more about mouse lemurs, until somebody – a unicorn Meldrum? – volunteers his own time and money.

    “Life’s too short” has lots of applications.

    But this knocking thing seems to be reported a lot, and often under circumstances under which other stuff that is reported a lot happens, including actual sightings. It’s not like apes aren’t known to do similar stuff. They like to make noise. Given the noises sasquatch are reputed to make, well, why don’t orangutans do this? The noises orangutans make seem to be enough for them; if they ever whack trees no one seems to have documented it. But until we know more, we won’t know why sasquatch (if they do) do this.

    The NAWAC case gets more interesting if you go to the recent thread here and listen to that video. (It’s a PowerPoint presentation with sound, although there are some clips from the research site.) As I said, there is a lot going on, including a lot of knocking. Almost none of them thought, going in, that this was a sasquatch characteristic. Almost none of them disagree now that it is. It’s their experiences that informed this. Although none saw one doing this, they all pretty much have seen one; and it’s hard to come up with something else that would do what I’m hearing, unless he would have a lot to worry about from young men like the one you cite.



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