Radford Asks “Could Escaped Animals Account for Bigfoot Sightings?” OMG Answer: “No”

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 18th, 2012

OMG, sometimes I have to just throw up my hands in frustration or go for a double face-palm!!

Ben Radford has written a new column theorizing that escaped animals are behind Bigfoot sightings.  I’m not even going to trouble you with any quotes. I respect your intelligence too much. Cryptozoologists have been saying this for years, that we need to follow escaped animal sightings to make certain they are not confused with sightings. But that’s different than pointing out a recent chimp sighting or bears in the woods are any kind of blanket explanation for Bigfoot accounts.  Ye ole “circus train wreck excuses” as an overreaching motif still doesn’t work, even if you put a new window dressing on it.

We’ve been here before. It was silly to even consider this for long in the past. Why bring this up again?

Bears have ears. Bears can’t walk bipedally for long, and certainly not with any primate flow to their stroll. Escaped camels don’t fool people for long. Chimps are killed or caught quickly.

John Bindernagel went over this bears vs Bigfoot landscape, with his illos, in his North Americas Great Ape: The Sasquatch (1998).

A bear stands at attention for tourists at Yellowstone National Park; if seen briefly at dusk from a distance, it could be mistaken for a Bigfoot.
CREDIT: Benjamin Radford

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.

15 Responses to “Radford Asks “Could Escaped Animals Account for Bigfoot Sightings?” OMG Answer: “No””

  1. Paul V Ruggeri via Facebook responds:

    Well he does have a point about blurry fuzzy indistinct photos that are touted as bigfoot. Not sure it warranted a whole article though…

  2. eireman responds:

    I think it has to do with a combination of factors, eye-witness misidentification being chief among these. Let’s face it: 99% of this whole study we call ‘cryptozoology’ is first or second-hand witness testimonies. Hard evidence–for all intents and purposes–simply doesn’t exist to a scientifically acceptable degree, which is not the same as saying there is NO evidence. There have been tantalizing clues, but they have simply raised more questions. So we have to look at what is the more plausible explanation. We know animal escapes happen. We know human perception can be a highly flawed thing (especially when some type of confirmation bias is at work). The more plausible explanation in most of these cases is either fakery or misidentification. The least plausible is a genuine sighting of a giant heretofore unclassified creature that has managed to elude us in our own backyard for at least a century. Like it or not, that’s how it is. It smacks of hubris to dismiss this hypothesis so vehemently. There may indeed be an unknown hairy hominid stalking the dark environs of our world, but until such a thing is proved, we have to remain open to alternative explanations. All else is dogma.

  3. krs9864 responds:

    “Venus seen thru swamp gas during a lunar eclipse…” Nuff said…

  4. mandors responds:

    As Loren points out, misidentification is simply not a plausible answer to the the Bigfoot/Sasquatch phenomenon for a variety of reasons. Many of the witnesses are experienced outdoorsmen, who even rip-roaring drunk can tell the difference between bear rearing on its hind legs and a ten foot tall biped. The sheer number of sightings also belies misidentification. Hundreds of sightings, maybe, unlikely but maybe. But not thousands. Footprints, video, photos and along with the witnesses, there is just too much out there pointing to an actual creature. Don’t get me wrong, its existence has not been proven, but denying or dismissing the evidence with these tired 1970s arguments is not science, it’s nihilism.

  5. Sasquatch/Bigfoot- Searching for the Facts via Facebook responds:

    Well there you have it! another one sided argument on the existence or explanation of a yet to be proven to exist creature. Sigh, when will we ever agree to open our minds and listen to all evidence and thoughts on the subject instead of one sided arguments.

  6. alan borky responds:

    Loren if I saw the bear in Ben Radford’s pic at twilight I might mistake it for a pig trying on a new fur coat or even conclude “So that’s why they’re called donkey jackets. Donkeys wear ’em.”

    But I wouldn’t mistake it for a Sasquatch.

  7. Fhqwhgads responds:

    “I’m sure it’s just a weather balloon or a foreign exchange student. These strange beasts just aren’t real!” — Elephant-footed Ghost Man

  8. Fhqwhgads responds:


    Thousands and thousands, eh? With photos and videos and everything!!

    Well, no. Ten thousand blobsquatches does not make an American ape more likely. Nor do a thousand poorly preserved and ambiguous footprints. 10 million tons of lead does not mean you have one pound of gold.

    There are only a few pieces of really interesting evidence — mostly the Patterson-Gimlin film and a handful of good quality early footprint casts.* The hair samples and DNA so far seem ambiguous; they may increase the confidence of believers but they make no new converts.

    Stalin is often credited with the statement, “Quantity has a quality all its own.” For some things, that works, at least up to a point. In this case, though, it would be better to get one more P-G film than another thousand blobsquatches.

    * Since a “good” hoaxer can now read books now and know what makes for a “good” footprint, the mere imprint of a divergent big toe or other changes to the skeletal structure of the foot is no longer a strong indication that the footprint is genuine. If, on the other hand, it looks like it was made by a teenager with a piece of plywood and a saber saw, that’s probably exactly what it was.

  9. Austin Morrow responds:

    Then, explain to me the people who have had daylight encounters that were super in focus and could see everything. That’s what I’ve seen, and nothing else, and nobody can tell me it was something else. There are too many good, credible eyewitness accounts, and so much more circumstantial evidence.

    And there aren’t “ten thousand blobsquatches.”

  10. Fhqwhgads responds:

    @Austin Morrow

    How many blobsquatches there are, probably no man knows, but if anyone does, he’s probably a Google employee. If there are more or fewer than 10,000, it really makes no difference, though. All you have to do is follow this blog to see that, with only maybe a handful of exceptions, the pictures and videos uploaded to the web all fall into the categories of obvious hoaxes or obvious misidentifications (taken together, these probably represent 80-90%), or interesting but unambiguous.

    As for the daylight encounters, the ones you are talking about are the ones with the same amount of solid support as Fox visiting the Carter Farm, speaking English, and asking for garlic. How do I explain that Janice Carter Coy had daylight encounters that were super in focus and could see everything? I don’t, because whatever evidence she may have is locked away inside her head where I can’t see it. It may be totally convincing to her, but it is useless to me. The same is true of all other cases, including your encounter, if I read you correctly.

    I think you are missing my point, though, which is that it is the QUALITY of the evidence, not its QUANTITY, which is significant. As things stand now, the Patterson-Gimlin film is more significant than all of the other photos and videos taken together, because it is clear enough that we can judge how hard it would be to fake, and Patty sure as heck isn’t a bear, an escaped gorilla, chimp, or orangutan, an oddly shaped tree trunk, or anything else that could be explained by misidentification. If we had 2 or 3 films of similar quality from independent sources, I don’t think we would need a body.

  11. Goodfoot responds:

    Push the button, pull the chain
    Look, it’s another circus train!

  12. DWA responds:

    Ben is the skeptical equivalent of “Finding Bigfoot.”

    Actually, the ‘professional’ ‘skeptics’ are the flip side of “Finding Bigfoot.”

  13. DWA responds:

    OK. By popular demand.

    First. That bear photo. You have GOT to be kidding me. Ben really thinks that a KEY explanation for cryptid sightings is somebody seeing something, briefly, at a distance, in dim light, that is nothing like anything anyone is describing as a sasquatch, and they are automatically positing an unknown, based on that brief glimpse? Really? Have you ever done that? No you have not; no I have not; and no, not one sighting report I am aware of could possibly be attributed to such an occurrence. All one has to do is read – wait for it – the words in sighting reports. This is something that could only be postulated by someone whose “research” carefully avoids the eyewitness testimony.

    If one is so sure, as Ben is so sure, that eyewitness testimony is bad evidence, why, praytell, would one go to all this trouble to show, clearly, that one is not even paying attention at all to what people are saying, very clearly, that they are seeing?
    Never mind that everyone knows Ben is wrong. Ben talks about psychology being the only discipline required to do cryptid research. Does Ben know, or does Ben not know, that psychology tells you that people don’t see knowns and explain them by reaching for unknowns, but instead, do the reverse? That’s called “human nature.” It is so copiously supported by the eyewitness literature that Ben is only pointing very carefully to the important research he does NOT do. I could get one of my kids, in fact, to do it for him.

    Now, that, um, article. I can dismiss it by telling you…um, in fact, what Ben tells you:

    In not Instance One of ANY of the escape incidents he lists was one animal mistaken for something it was not.


    Because, psychology tells us, people don’t generally do that.


  14. DWA responds:

    Sorry. Target-rich environment; and there are two other things to point out.

    1. Anyone who thinks about this much knows that one thing you can’t do is postulate a whole slew of random causes for sasquatch sightings, the ol’ shibboleth “lies hoaxes misidentifications hallucinations etc.” Anyone doing a solid read of the eyewitness literature and well acquainted with logic knows that – absent a vast conspiracy in which people are comparing notes – its consistency becomes harder and harder to explain the more random causes one cites. (Come to think of it, the ‘vast conspiracy’ is a SINGLE cause. See?) Which means that circus train wrecks and escaped animals – for this piece of Ben’s to be worth reading at all – must explain either ALL or ALMOST ALL bigfoot sightings. This despite Ben offering no evidence in his piece that that EVER happens. One might as well just think the sasquatch is real as think that thousands of encounters – many in quite remote country – are being inspired by crashing circus trains.

    2. I need to amend something I wrote. I said “In not Instance One of ANY of the escape incidents he lists was one animal mistaken for something it was not.”

    Well now, somebody might have made a phone call in which an escaped red panda was described, by someone who needs to get out more, as a “raccoon.” A black bear could be called a brown bear. (Of course it could; look up there. That photo? BLACK bear.) An antelope could be called a deer, a jaguar a leopard.

    Not what we are talking about. Those are people who just aren’t good at animals. We are talking about somebody seeing, say, a gorilla (or a BEAR! O-kay there), and thinking: that is an animal that is not supposed to exist!

    THAT is what people don’t do.

    (Calling a young gorilla a “chimp?” Now that could happen.)

  15. Goodfoot responds:

    The guy’s an EXPLAINER! He doesn’t care one whit about the facts – what he does is the exact parallel of whistling past the graveyard!

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