Fact or Fiction: Recent Sightings
Jamie M. Eubanks
JSU News Bureau
JACKSONVILLE -- February 22, 2001 -- Alabama is known for its hunters and its ideal hunting atmosphere. But maybe there's something lurking out there that hunters would rather not discover.
Picture this: You're out in the forest. The birds are singing, and the squirrels are making a fuss. Finally, you see movement in the distance. A deer, perhaps? You look through the scope. To your amazement, this animal stands six feet tall and is incredibly hairy. He begins to show his yellow fangs.
What you are seeing is a North American Big Foot.
Fact or Fiction?
A few weeks ago, according to the Tampa Tribune, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office received the pictures of what looks like an oversized orangutan. Attached to the pictures was an anonymous letter from a woman who said she photographed the animal in her yard. The pictures showed the creature crouching beside a palm tree.
Sightings were also alleged in Broward and Hernando Counties in Florida.
Loren Coleman, a well known cryptozoologist, and Dr. George Cline, Associate Professor of Biology at Jacksonville State University, commented on the recent sighting.
After seeing the pictures, Coleman has deduced that the animal could be a Myakka Ape or Skunk Ape, so called for its foul odor.
Coleman, in his book Mysterious America, speaks of a hunter in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, who had such an encounter in 1941. His sighting led to the gathering of volunteers with rifles and shotguns to scour the forest for a would be Big Foot.
Dr. Cline of JSU grew up in the era of Big Foot sightings and myths about a North American Big Foot. "The kid in me wants to believe a big Foot exists," comments Cline. "But there's just not enough evidence."
Though both experts think there is some probability the Big Foot of southern Florida is a hoax, there could be some logical reasons behind the sightings.
"This area of Florida is a stop for most dealers in illegal exotic pets," says Cline. "An orang could have escaped." Because of laws against the sale of such pets, anyone who may have been responsible for the animal is certainly not going to come forward.
As with most photographs of this nature, they could have been "doctored" to make them look convincing. "And with the digital technology available today, just about anyone can make Big Foot appear in pictures," says Cline.
On the other hand, what if the pictures are authentic?
With all of Alabama's forested land, could there be a beast lurking in our own woods waiting for that lone hunter to discover him? Time will only tell.
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