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Searching for Sasquatch
Once a month, during spring, summer and fall, Doug Waller packs his bags and heads to the woods.
Waller sets up camp at Salt Fork State Park in Lore City, Ohio, and waits with various investigators, researchers and witnesses.
They’re on the lookout for two nights at a time.
That is how the Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigation does its work, diligently searching for tracks and evidence left behind by a species of mysterious creatures known as “Bigfoot.”
Waller said sometimes people who show up to the society’s meetings are just interested in learning about the creature, but for whatever reason, people come. Waller said this Bigfoot society has something special about it.
“I was a part of another (Bigfoot) group before, but it wasn’t fulfilling our needs; it was like coming back from a restaurant still hungry,” Waller said. “We wanted to see evidence and look for it ourselves, so we have outdoor meetings at Salt Fork because people enjoy looking in the woods and sitting around a campfire.”
Today, Waller said the society averages about 40 attendees per meeting, but they’ve had as many as 70 in the past.
“We don’t have an agenda or anything,” he said. “We just get in a room, set up some chairs in a big square and we just start talking about Bigfoot, and I act as the moderator.” Waller added that the society acts as a “support group” for many members because a lot of people try to share their Bigfoot sighting story, but they get laughed at. The meetings are a comfort zone of sorts to the believers.
“Nobody likes to get laughed at, so they talk to us, and for a lot of people it’s like a weight off of their shoulders,” Waller said. “I know some people who’ve had sightings and they were so awestruck by it, they want answers and need to be out in the woods looking for it. But some have gone the other way because they were so traumatized by the experience.”
Though Waller has never had a Sasquatch sighting himself, he’s seen giant foot tracks, oddly bent trees and heard screams and howls. He said he’s a believer based on that evidence.
But Dr. Scott Moody, associate professor of biology sciences at Ohio University, believes for a different reason: Science, he says, proves the giant species exists.
“What we know in the world of law and criminalistics is that eyewitness accounts are the least reliable source for court evidence,” Moody said.
Moody said the largest piece of evidence now is the DNA from hair and track samples, which he said reveals something that scientists haven’t seen before. Scientists have not been able to match some hair that has been found, for example, to humans.
“That’s why I’m so excited about this,” he said. “And a lot of my colleagues say I’m totally nuts, but evidence is evidence. … The whole thing leaves us with a pile of tantalizing evidence.”
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a group devoted to investigating Bigfoot sightings and reports, states on its website that Ohio has the fifth-most Bigfoot sightings in the country.
Moody said there isn’t a concrete explanation for that.
Marc DeWerth, head of the Ohio Bigfoot Association, said the fact that Ohio doesn’t have a natural predator is the best explanation.
“I think the Sasquatches are filling a void and taking advantage of our deer herd,” DeWerth said.
“We also have plenty of water going through the state, so I think Ohio is the perfect niche for Bigfoot.”
Still, though Bigfoot believers seem to agree the creatures are bountiful in this state, they also agree sightings are rare.
Waller said Bigfoot is certainly out there, but because of their cleverness they will likely remain undetected.
“Think of Navy Seals; that’s how smart and clever they are,” he said. “People will ask me all the time if I’m still looking for Bigfoot, but the thing is, I don’t go out in the woods looking.
“You don’t find Bigfoot, they’ll find you.”