Gordon Krantz, anthropology professor at Washington State University, has touched off a controversy in Bigfoot circles by advocating that a specimen should be hunted down and killed.
"Someday down the line, 50 years from now, somebody by the rare chance might just stumble across the skeleton of a Sasquatch, and then the government sends out masses of [chimpanzee researcher] Jane Goodall's granddaughters, and establishes definitely, they were there, but they're extinct," Krantz said. "Everybody will be standing around wringing their hands saying: 'If only we knew they were real, we could have saved them.'
"Well, they could have been saved if only we would blow one away now. The first one who bags one should get a big, big prize. The second one should be hanged."
One opponent of Krantz's view is Peter Byrne, director of the Bigfoot Research Project at Oregon's Mount Hood. Byrne, a big-game hunter, undertook the first major organized Bigfoot expedition in Oregon in 1960. It failed to produce a Sasquatch, but Byrne hasn't quit looking.
He now spends much of his time tracking down witnesses, investigating their stories for holes, sending investigators to look for corroborating evidence, then entering the results in a computer database. So far, 103 sightings going back 50 years -- none of them outside the Northwest -- have been deemed credible by the four-member team working on Mount Hood.
All told, Byrne figures he has spent 16 of the last 35 years looking for Bigfoot. He still has never seen one, although he once heard that shrieking cry in the forest.
"It was a kind ofscreaming roar. Very, very powerful," he said. "It lasted about five seconds, there was an interruption of four or five seconds, then it happened again. I've heard elephants. I've heard tigers. I've never heard anything like this."
Whatever is finally found in the woods, Byrne said, shouldn't be shot.
"There are those people who say: 'Shoot one, cut off the head and send it to me, it's all over.' We realize that could be the answer. But these things have never harmed anyone, and they've never demonstrated any kind of aggression, and we feel that any attempt to shoot one would be criminal," Byrne said.
"As one schoolboy said to me, 'Suppose it's the last one?'"
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