Bigfoot In The Adirondacks?

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By Diane Rutherford

Check out YouTube and you'll find plenty of video showing what some believe is Bigfoot.

There's even this clip - said to be a Sasquatch roaming through the Old Forge area in the Adirondacks.

A Utica man, who likes to be called Adirondack Jack Leach, is a believer.

He claims to have seen Bigfoot several times while hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks.

"They're about 7 to 7 1/2 feet tall. Their approximate weight is 700 to 750 pounds. They've got big, long arms, a hump back, ape-like gorilla head and face," said Leach.

Reported sightings of Bigfoot are nothing new in the north country.

There's this really fun website by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization - it has a state-by-state, county-by-county list of sightings.

Jefferson County's only reported close encounter happened near Ellisburg in 1818.

The 19th century account says a gentleman of "unquestionable veracity" saw something resembling "the Wild Man of the Woods" - yet another name for Bigfoot.

In Lewis County in 2000, a group of hikers smelled something awful before seeing a gorilla-like creature walking on two legs.

In St. Lawrence County, there were reports of incidents and sightings in 1976, 2000 and 2008.

There are some Bigfoot believers who want the state to formally protect the creature.

In a recent letter, the Department of Environmental Conservation responded to such a request.

The chief wildlife biologist wrote: "No program or action in relation to mythical animals is warranted."

I tried to interview the biologist or anyone else for that matter at the DEC. 

Instead, I got this email from DEC Public Information Officer Rick Georgeson:  "We are not making any comments on bigfoot. We have real issues that we need to spend our scarce resources on.  If you ever have any questions about actual wildlife (or anything that actually exists in nature), we would be happy to provide input."

So I checked with an anthropologist at St. Lawrence University, who says there's no evidence Bigfoot exists.

She says sightings are either hoaxes or misidentification of other animals.

"Nobody really wants to say that it doesn't exist. Wouldn't it be fabulous if Bigfoot actually did exist? But, there is no scientific evidence and that's the major issue," said Mindy Pitre, assistant visiting professor of anthropology at SLU.

So is Bigfoot alive and well in the north country? It depends on whom you ask. But one thing is certain - believers like Adirondack Jack will continue to believe and scientists like Pitre won't hold their breath waiting for concrete evidence.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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