Geographical Index > United States > North Dakota > Article # 368
Media Article # 368
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization: Bigfoot researcher to visit Fort Berthold
By Eloise Ogden
Minot Daily News: Online Edition
A member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization is expected to visit the Fort Berthold Reservation about the recent sightings of Bigfoot there.
Kelly Berdahl, a field investigator from Bozeman, Mont., for BFRO, an international network of people researching Bigfoot, said he plans to be in the area in the next few days and hopes to talk to people who say they have seen the legendary creature. He also plans to visit the locations of the recent sightings.
Berdahl, a high school band director in Bozeman, has been with the Bigfoot group for about five years.
In February several Fort Berthold residents reported seeing what appeared to be an ape-like animal described as a Bigfoot in the New Town and the Mandaree areas.
Matt Moneymaker, ("yes," he quickly says, "that's his real name.") of Dana Point, Calif., president of BFRO and who organized the group in 1995, said people who see a Bigfoot in North Dakota should not fear it.
That's "Bigfoots" or "Sasquatches," not "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch," because there's "definitely more than one," Moneymaker said.
"There's nothing to fear from them, except for the shock of an unexpected encounter," he said. "They will walk away as soon as they see you. Some credible witnesses who have crossed paths and almost bumped into them in forests have described them screaming and running away. They try to avoid humans, and they do a good job of it most of the time."
The BFRO has more than 3,000 members who, on a voluntary basis, research the subject, Moneymaker said. When he's not researching, Moneymaker runs a consulting firm that deals with computers, marketing, legal and business issues.
BFRO members are those in the network. "They provide relevant information, reports and check things out for us in their areas when we call upon them to do so," Moneymaker said.
He said the main objective of the organization is to understand more about these animals and provide that information to the public. "Documenting incidents and evidence serves this objective," he said.
Moneymaker, who has been interviewed about BFRO in national publications including National Geographic News and Outside magazine, said no one knows the number of these animals, although estimates range from roughly 2,000 to 6,000 in North America.
Fort Berthold sightings
He said a few elements make the Fort Berthold sightings significant. He said one is the relatively open and level terrain in many areas, which is ideal for spotting them from aircraft, and/or tracking them on the ground.
Moneymaker said it's not uncommon to have sightings within a few days and then none.
"This is not uncommon in certain regions," Moneymaker said. "In non-mountainous parts of the Midwest and the South, there will occasionally be several reports within a few days' span, where people will see one on the move in the daytime and out in the open. In these instances there will be a handful of very credible reports, often with multiples observes for each 'sighting,' but the sightings will eventually cease as quickly as they began, within a few days or weeks."
"When the locations are mapped they usually show a clear progression in some direction, and appear to generally parallel or track a long landmark such as a river," Moneymaker said.
He said the one seen on Fort Berthold was likely heading south, generally paralleling the Missouri River. "It may be continuing in that direction at present, or it may have already arrived in the unpopulated habitat area it was trying to reach," Moneymaker said.
He said it happens more often than one might assume that many different people sight a Bigfoot in an area.
"But I wouldn't call it normal," Moneymaker said. "These animals are usually less active in daylight when they are near to human settlements. Sometimes they seem to feel safe enough to keep moving during the daylight. That's when many people will see them. It seems to be more common when they're on a long haul and won't be around long enough in the area to be threatened."
Prey upon deer
He said the sightings and track finds tend to occur in areas where there's a deer overpopulation problem. "There's evidence to suggest that Sasquatches prey upon deer," Moneymaker said.
When someone asks why have no remains of the animal ever been found, Moneymaker said the short answer is "because 'we' have never looked for these kinds of remains." He said there is more physical evidence of these animals than people realize, naming tracks, hairs, scat and tree damage that are all physical evidence.
He said people often don't say they have seen a Bigfoot, but there are many reasons why people should believe those who say they have seen one.
"Would you go around seriously telling people you've just seen a Bigfoot if you haven't? Why not? For the same reasons other people wouldn't do it either. They aren't going to run around telling everyone in sight that they've just seen a Bigfoot unless they are really, really sure about it," Moneymaker said.
When people are skeptical about Bigfoot, Moneymaker said he replies:
"I tell them that we're much better skeptics than they are. We take the time to find the eyewitnesses and talk to them. We collect the evidence and have it analyzed by the best scientific specialists in the U.S. and Canada. We know which explanations to be skeptical about."
Moneymaker said more experts are saying Bigfoot is real, including Jane Goodall, the renowned chimpanzee researcher who in 2002 publicly said in an interview that she was sure these primates exist.
People who want to know more about the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization can check its Web site at (www.bfro.net).
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