Geographical Index > United States > Washington > Pierce County > Article # 154
Media Article # 154
Article submitted by Richard Noll
Monday, January 27, 1975
'Bigfoot' prowling county?
By Kerry Webster
Tacoma News Tribune
Something big is prowling the wooded hills south of here; Mark Pittenger is sure of that.
Last week it left its calling cards - seven huge, humanoid footprints - in the mud of a lonely logging road.
"Sasquatch? I don't know. I call it that for lack of anything better," said Pittenger, a young law officer who has been dogging the creature for two years.
"All I know," he said Sunday, "is that whatever made those footprints was very real - and very, very big."
THE FOOTPRINTS, found by two hunters near 112th and Shaw road last Thursday, measured 15 inches long and 8 inches across the base of the toes.
"You can see here," Pittenger said, tracing with his finger the outline of a plaster cast lifted from one print, "there is a very definite impression of five toes, a heel and a slight arch."
"It is absolutely not a bear print, a cougar print, or anything like it," he said. "I'm also certain it's not a fake. I've seen many fake footprints, and this isn't one of them."
PITTENGER IS a lean, laconic lawman with no use for exaggeration and distaste for publicity. He tells of his Sasquatch encounters with the resignation of a man who fully expects to be disbelieved.
"I've seen the animal twice in the two years I've been tracking him," he said, matter-of-factly. "He is fully eight feet tall, hairy, and has a human-like face."
Since 1972, when he first stumbled onto a set of huge footprints during a routine prowler call, Pittenger has spent much of his off-duty time haunting the deep woods south of Puyallup.
"At first, I was out to describe the whole thing as a big hoax," he said. "I thought a trained investigator could soon put a stop to it."
"Now I'm convinced - there really is something out there."
THE LAW_ENFORCEMENT agency to which Pittenger belongs - one known for its strictly straight-arrow image - is unhappy with his avocation.
He was reprimanded for reporting the first prints, and says he was docked several points on his annual fitness report because of the incident.
"When I got the reprimand, I really took it to heart," he recalled. "I was sitting in my patrol car out on Shaw Road, thinking it over, when guess who steps out of the brush!"
The face-to-face encounter lasted only a few seconds, but convinced Pittenger that "Bigfoot" was more substantial than legend.
THE FOOTPRINTS found last week, he feels, provide the evidence he needs to interest legitimate scientists.
"Getting interest out of a university anthropologist is like getting blood out of a turnip," he said. "They want solid, concrete evidence before they'll even yawn."
Pittenger believes the seven footprints to have been about four days old when found. Three of them were across the muddy logging road, another four up a steep bank.
"He crossed the road, then appears to have stopped and looked around before climbing the bank," he said.
"We measured his stride at 12 feet. He took one step from the shoulder to the center of the road, and another to the other shoulder. It took him only four strides to climb a bank I had to go up on all fours."
Pittenger, who weighs 200 pounds, could not make an impression in the damp ground - but the unknown prints were one-and-a-half inches deep.
"That would put his weight at about 900 pounds," he said.
COULD THE PRINTS be clever fakes?
"I've seen hoax prints, and they're usually very flat, very regular. These showed a definite arch, and the heel was sunk deeper than the toe, as should be the case."
"The prints also were slightly deeper in the instep - that's a characteristic of simians," Pittenger added.
Two other tracing experts, one a fellow policeman, examined the tracks at the scene, and agreed with Pittenger that they are probably genuine.
This week, the plaster cast will go to Washington State University for study, and Pittenger will go back to the Puyallup hills on his time off - not to track, but to guard against would-be Sasquatch hunters.
"Last time we had a report in the area, I took 30 high-powered rifles away from drunks," he sighed.
Article had a picture of a young boy hold up a plaster cast of a footprint: "Is it Bigfoot? - Young Mark Pittenger Jr., was dwarfed by the plaster cast of a footprint found on a logging road south of Puyallup. Mark's father, a seasoned law officer, is convinced the print belongs to his old nemesis, the legendary Sasquatch.