Laws Protecting Cryptids?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 4th, 2009

How do you protect something that has not even been confirmed or verified as being a species?

History records one major local law against killing Bigfoot.

This one:

Skamania County Ordinance

Ordinance No. 69-01

Be it hereby ordained by the Board of County Commissioners of Skamania County:

Whereas, there is evidence to indicate the possible existence in Skamania County of a nocturnal primate mammal variously described as an ape-like creature or a sub-species of Homo Sapiens; and

Whereas, both legend and purported recent sightings and spoor support this possibility, and

Whereas, this creature is generally and commonly known as a “Sasquatch”, “Yeti”, “Bigfoot”, or “Giant Hairy ape”, and has resulted in an influx of scientific investigators as well as casual hunters, many armed with lethal weapons, and

Whereas, the absence of specific laws covering the taking of specimens encourages laxity in the use of firearms and other deadly devices and poses a clear and present threat to the safety and well-being of persons living or traveling within the boundaries of Skamania County as well as to the creatures themselves,

Therefore be it resolved that any premeditated, wilful and wanton slaying of such creature shall be deemed a felony punishable by a fine not to exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000) and/or imprisonment in the county jail for a period not to exceed Five (5) years.

Be it further resolved that the situation existing constitutes an emergency and as such this ordinance is effective immediately.

ADOPTED this 1st day of April, 1969.

The above ordinance was partially repealed and amended in 1984 by Ordinance 1984-2:

The ordinance was amended to make the crime a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail and/or a $1000 fine.

The new ordinance also created a million-acre refuge within the County.

Board of Commissioners of Skamania County

Of course, having an initial date (even though it was amended later) of April Fool’s Day does not get it much respect.

What firm legal enactments have been made to protect against harming or killing Sasquatch, Nessie, the Abominable Snowmen, and varied cryptids (other than extra “creature searching fees” and/or “monster hunting” restrictions)?

A second year student at Tulane Law School in New Orleans emails in to me a question for a research paper this individual is writing for their animal law class: What “the laws (or lack of) protecting cryptids” exist?

Well, “lack of” is an open-ended research project because that would be an endless list, so let’s concentrate on any that you know exist or have existed, okay?

Let’s help this student out, Cryptomundians, and wake up those brain cells in the middle of the week!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

17 Responses to “Laws Protecting Cryptids?”

  1. Tabitca responds:

    The Nature Conservancy Council, said that Nessie was protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.

    This made it an offence for anyone to snare, shoot or blow up the monster with explosives.

    Sweden passed similar legislation protecting its own monster a few months later.

  2. D2K4 responds:

    Arkansas has some old laws on the book protecting the Fouke Monster and the White River Monster. In fact, the White River Monster (generally thought to have been an elephant seal) had a whole section of the river around Newport set up as a reserve.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    I don’t know if this counts, but the presumed extinct Japanese otter Lutra nippon, is protected as law and has even been designated as a National Treasure.

    The Swedish monster is not protected anymore.

    The Swedish lake monster that was mentioned above is said to lurk in Lake Storsjon and is called the Storsjon monster (sometimes spelled as Storsjoen or Storsjoodjuret, it seems). Any Swedish readers here feel free to correct my spellings. It is true that the creature WAS protected by law, but it has been since removed from its protected status.

    The Storsjon monster was originally protected by a law passed by Jaemland Province in central Sweden in 1986. This law prevented the killing and even the capture of one of the creatures.

    However, the protected status has since been lifted. The reason stated in the article I read was that a local man applied for special permission to gather the creatures eggs, and the law was lifted when authorities were unable to state the species of the mystery animal.

    So monster egg collecting local man- 1, legislature trying to protect the Swedish cryptid- 0.

  4. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    that’s good. 🙂 rather be safe than sorry

  5. mystery_man responds:

    One observation I’ve made when looking at cases such as the removal of the Swedish Storsjon monster from its protected status is that one thing that seems necessary in order to enforce this type of status is a proper taxonomic classification, or species assignment.

    I am not sure about the legal intricacies involved here, but if there is a need for a classification of the species being protected in all cases, this poses a unique problem for passing legislation on totally new, undiscovered animals. After all, how can you accurately classify a cryptid if it is a complete unknown? More than that, what happens if the creature is actually discovered and defies the token classification that had been given to it before its documentation? Does it dwell in a sort of legal limbo until the law can be changed to correspond to its actual taxonomy, during which time it could be hunted? More than getting the creature protected to begin with, it seems that, at least in the case of the Storsjon monster, in order to enforce that law, there needs to be a species classification upon which to base the status.

    In my opinion, this is a very interesting conundrum. How do we classify creatures such as sasquatch if we don’t really know what they are? This could pose even bigger problems with cryptids like lake monsters, where it often isn’t even apparent if the animal in question is a reptile, mammal, fish, giant slug, or whatever.

    Also, consider how many known endangered animals under protection actually receive few significant resources to that end. Unfortunately, I think in order for any cryptid to be firmly and seriously protected (beyond a token gesture), it seems that it is going to have to be at least documented first.

    It would be interesting to here from someone here who has some sort of legal expertise in these matters.

  6. Haley Fisher responds:

    I may be mistaken, but I believe there is a law protecting Ogopogo from harm. I’ll have to look that up when I get home.

  7. red_pill_junkie responds:

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Champ! There’s a law that protects it and lists it as an ‘endangered species’ as a precautionary method— it was even mentioned in MonsterQuest people, I mean sheeesh… 😉

  8. Larry responds:

    Animal law is not my field, but I can tell you a couple things.

    The Fish & Wildlife Service will not protect any animal via the Endangered Species Act until it is placed on the list of endangered species. That means that the animal is threatened with extinction or with the loss of a large amount of its habitat. That seems to imply that the animal has to be scientifically verified (otherwise it is hard to show it is threatened or to define its range).

    The Lacey Act allows the Department of Interior to restore populations of game animals and birds. Since your typical cryptid would not be “game,” it seems of little application.

    I did an electronic search of the US Code and US Code of Federal Regulations and found no instance of either “sasquatch” or “Bigfoot.”

    I did find a reference to a strip club called “Bigfoot” in a 2004 decision of the Seventh Circuit.

    There appear to be no federal laws or regulations using the term cryptozoology.

    I found this in an article from the Antitrust Law Journal (Blumenthal, 63 Antitrust L.J. 1): “Like the sasquatch or the yeti, the ‘sham transaction’ seems to be the subject of literature and search that far outstrips its terrestrial existence. n152 Despite sporadic reports of sightings, n153 no specimen has yet been captured in connection with an ordinary merger negotiation.”

    I assume that your basic animal cruelty laws and hunting regulations would apply. So, if you are out for whitetail deer, don’t come back with a sasquatch unless you expect to pay a fine.

    That, as we say, is all I’ve got.

  9. DWA responds:

    This from Lonely Planet Books:

    Sakten Wildlife Sanctuary
    was set up as the exclusive habitat of the Mirgo. This 650 sq km (253 sq mi) sanctuary, in eastern Bhutan, is unique as the only reserve in the world created specifically to protect the habitat of the yeti, known in Bhutan as the migoi (strong man). The migoi differs from yetis found (or not) in other Himalayan regions. Its body is covered in hair that may be anything from reddish-brown to black, but it’s face is hairless. It smells pretty bad apparently and has the power to become invisible, which explains why so few people have seen it. Another feature which helps the elusive, hairy fella escape detection is that many have their feet backwards confusing possible trackers.
    The village, or goemba, of Sakten is the place you need to be to jump into the wilderness of the Wildlife Sanctuary. Head to Trashigang, and then drive the extra 60km (37mi) to the border of eastern Bhutan, a total distance from Thimpu of 660km (211mi) which in Bhutan is a two day drive.

  10. DWA responds:

    Larry hints at what I understand is a general principle regarding hunting, at least in the U.S.

    Hunting is illegal.

    With exceptions, which exceptions form the bulk of the hunting regulations.

    Since cryptids are not listed in any state’s hunting regs (except, um, Skamania County), they do not count as exceptions to the general prohibition against hunting.

    Ergo, you cannot kill them. (Legally.)

  11. cryptogirl responds:

    I believe Champ has been protected in Vermont and New York, but I’m not clear on the details.

    Also, as apparent hominids, Sasquatch et al. might well be protected under existing homicide laws. Two interesting legal questions:

    1) If sasquatch is a person within the meaning of the relevant homicide statue

    2) If a person killing a sasquatch acted intentionally, recklessly, or negligently in killing a “person.” It might useful to look at cases involving hunting accidents.

    As a criminal matter, the state of course would have to decide to prosecute the case under homicide laws.

    Excellent point on hunting DWA.

    As a second year law student myself, I ‘d be quite interested to see the final paper. Loren, could you ask the student to post it to the site?

  12. red_pill_junkie responds:

    The laws protecting the migoi in Bhutan may have the double purpose of serving as a tourism boost. We should be mindful of that when we discuss cryptid-protecting laws.

    I think a law protecting the Sasquatch could be useful also for having the indirect purpose of preventing a tragedy of some hunter shooting a hoaxter wearing a monkey suit. But to me it would be a win-win situation, since it would also protect the life of these creatures, even if they haven’t been ‘officially’ found yet.

    Then again, there have been cases reported of people shooting at hairy beasts with no apparent harm done (Skinwalker Ranch et al), so maybe the law would be pointless 😉

  13. Kronprinz_adam responds:

    First, discover. Then protect. We cannot protect something we don’t know. It sound quite logical, science first.

  14. KelseyUSM responds:

    Hey guys- I’m the student Loren Coleman said was writing the paper, thanks so much for posting these great comments! I’d like to quote some of you in the paper, but anonymous postings aren’t an appropriate citation for a legal paper. If you’d be willing to let me use your name/qualifications in the citation to the quote, or rather, if you can provide a newspaper reference (or other “valid” support) to back up what you’ve stated then I can use that instead of your name, then please email me at and thanks again!

  15. red_pill_junkie responds:

    “Anonymous postings”? Whatchu MEAN Anonymous postings???

    Red Pill Junkie is MY legal name!

    And the red sky mask I wear every day is MY real face, too!! 😛

  16. Larry responds:

    While I fear sounding like a conceited lawyer, I can give some more context for the discussion of whether killing a bigfoot might be prosecuted as a murder.

    The closest thing federal law has to defining a person, as far as I have found, is this:

    (a) In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual”, shall include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development. For Kelsey, thats 1 USC 8.

    That statute really does not define a person, it makes sure that laws relating to people also cover infants. I’m not sure who thought this needed to be cleared up.

    Murder is usually prosecuted under state law, but the federal law says:

    Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree.

    Any other murder is murder in the second degree.

    So, the definition of human being as including infants of the species homo sapiens seems to imply a limit on the meaning of “murder” to the killing of homo sapiens.

    In my home state of Illinois, the definition of person has a similar meaning. Again, for Kelsey, see 5 ILCS 70/1.36.

    Oddly enough, the Illinois law on homicide does not mention the killing of a person or human being, it refers to the victim as an “individual.” 720 ILCS 5/Art. 9 heading. “Individual” is defined throughout Illinois law as a “natural person.”

    Based on that 15 minutes of research, I’m going to stick to the position that killing a non-homo sapiens hominid (or any other animal) can’t count as a murder. But, as I say on my blog, don’t consider that to be legal advise. If you are going Bigfoot hunting, you are on your own.

  17. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    hey i think they should protect the jersy devil.. cause i think it’s a gargoyle.. not a devil..

    It resembles a garoyle to me

    bat wings.. pterosaur like

    horse of a head
    retpillion tail..

    the gargoyles have reptillian tails.

    i hope this isnt off topic.. cause i think we should have this into this.

    plus the sightings and the pictures shown look like gargoyles…

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