As Elusive As Bigfoot

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 11th, 2008


Photo by Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal

Allan Mueller of The Nature Conservancy trolls through Bayou DeView in east Arkansas, where there were several ivory-billed woodpeckers sighted in 2004. The continuing search has been fruitless — and expensive — with development projects delayed. “We’ve got to get a picture,” he says.

The Commercial Appeal of Memphis has an update on the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker. One thing is for sure, skepticism is on the increase because the hunt is costing millions of dollars.

Elusive woodpecker hatches controversy

Millions have been spent on the hunt, but there’s still no definitive proof of the ivory-billed woodpecker

By Tom Charlier (Contact)
Sunday, May 11, 2008

BRINKLEY, Ark. — The life jackets have been stowed, the paddles secured and the water bottles packed. But as far as Allan Mueller is concerned, the canoes aren’t quite ready.

“Every boat needs a camera,” says Mueller, avian conservation project manager for The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, as he totes digital equipment to a canoe that’s about to be launched.

Here in Bayou DeView, a languid stream that seeps through a trackless realm of tupelos and several-hundred-year-old cypress trees, Mueller has every reason to be obsessed with photography.

In this swamp 75 miles west of Memphis, he and others have been trying to solve a tantalizing mystery and intensifying debate over an iconic, majestic bird — the ivory-billed woodpecker — thought to be extinct since World War II. And there’s only one way to do it: “We’ve got to get a picture,” Mueller says.

Although federal officials announced the apparent rediscovery of the woodpecker here three years ago, questions about the existence of the bird — and the money and effort devoted to it — have been mounting ever since.

In east Arkansas alone, the federal government and its partners have spent more than $5 million on searches, land acquisition and conservation work related to the woodpecker. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently set forth a $27 million recovery plan aimed at securing the bird’s long-term survival.

At the same time, concerns about the woodpecker have delayed a major irrigation project, adding as much as $54million to its cost.

Now, despite surveillance involving robotic cameras, helicopters, remote sensing equipment and thousands of hours spent by volunteers and experts, another search season has ended with no definitive proof of the woodpecker known as the “Lord God Bird.”

Many officials remain convinced of the bird’s existence, but as far as skeptics are concerned, the searchers might as well be looking for Bigfoot.

“This is a big bird. They haven’t found a feather, they haven’t found a pile of dung,” said Dennis Carman, chief engineer and director of the White River Irrigation District; the district’s Grand Prairie irrigation project costs have soared during a delay for environmental studies of possible impacts on the woodpecker.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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.

5 Responses to “As Elusive As Bigfoot”

  1. cmgrace responds:

    I didn’t realize there wasn’t any pics of the bird when it was rediscovered.

  2. CamperGuy responds:

    There have been articles since 2006 that the area being searched for the Ivory Billed woodpecker was also the reported habitat of the Fouke monster & bigfoot (if not one in the same).

    One article was by a “skeptic” recently noted in a blog on this site.

    The general story goes “with all those people looking with cameras and electronic equipment,helicopters etc in this area and no bipedal, ape-like creature has been seen.”

    My point of view is that knowing how to search and behave in a quiet manner not drawing attention or alarming wildlife, actually recognizing and hearing what is being seen and heard is a skill in short supply. I can easily see a reclsusive intelligent creature easily avoiding being seen in the Woodpecker search. Pretty sure I could avoid searchers rather easily.

    The woodpecker is another story. Difficult but doable if enough people could be used at the same time.Grid search using sound detection of the “knock, knock” the feeding woodpeckers make. Listen triangulate approach.

    Would of course have to keep a wary eye out for trickster otters. 🙂

  3. chrisandclauida2 responds:

    i wish i could get 27 million for bigfoot research. i guarantee with that cash to get the proof. you could try several different methods from inundating a very active area with cameras and people to placing a couple scout sniper type teams onto overlooks of active areas.

    i will guarantee with 27 million i will bring in the bigfoot. like olebub and the dawgs say no bucks no bigfoot.

    hell for one million i could bring in the bigfoot.

  4. DWA responds:

    CamperGuy says:

    “The general story goes “with all those people looking with cameras and electronic equipment,helicopters etc in this area and no bipedal, ape-like creature has been seen.”

    And then of course he goes on to illustrate one of several reasons why that’s a silly notion (and of course he’s right).

    If there’s one bunch that I would not expect to say anything about a sas if they did see one – or several – in the field, it’s ornithologists.

    And if there’s a bunch that ought to be ashamed of themselves if they’ve ever said a discouraging word about the sasquatch, ditto.

    Indeed, c&c2. With anything like the funding the maybe-woodpecker has gotten, the sas would have been documented, long ago.

    And there is a lot – A LOT – more evidence for the latter than there is for the continued existence of the former.

    Gotta say this. A conspicuous bird that needs to fly and to forage – noisily – in trees really should have been documented by now.

    And if you disagree, you have an open mind on other cryptids, too.


  5. DARHOP responds:

    chrisandclauida2 responds: “i will guarantee with 27 million i will bring in the bigfoot. like olebub and the dawgs say no bucks no bigfoot. hell for one million i could bring in the bigfoot.”

    Whatever C&C2… Peter Byrne spent over 3 million dollars of other people’s money and he never found any “real proof.” He has been researching over half his life and he has found no “real proof.” So I’d be willing to bet, if you had $5 million handed to you, you’d still come up empty-handed. Money isn’t always the answer when you are talking about finding an animal that doesn’t want to be found. Sure it helps, but it’s not the answer for getting proof. Spending time with them, earning their trust. Trying to get habituated with them. That may bring proof some day. If we are lucky.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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