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Geographical Index > United States > Washington > Grays Harbor County > Article # 224

Media Article # 224
Article submitted by Richard Noll

Wednesday, June 13, 1984

Is Sasquatch for Real? Well, just maybe according to Evidence.

By Jennifer McGauley
Grays Harbor Chronicle

Sheriff's deputy Dennis Heryford is hot on the tracks of Sasquatch - he's accumulated five molds of 15-inch footprints reportedly left by the creature in its Grays Harbor County stomping grounds.

The tracks of the controversial creature were reported to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff's Department two years ago, and the molds made are "some of the clearest ever produced," Heryford said.

The footprints, 2 inches deep and 6 inches wide, have five telltale characteristics Sasquatch trackers look for, including overhanging toenails, visible tendons and bunions, he said. In addition, some have ridges similar to those found on human prints.

"We discount some of the stuff we come across, but these are the ones that you just can't discount."

As part of his job, Heryford investigates reports of Sasquatch sightings and track findings. No footprints that could be verified have been found since the four that were reported in April and May 1982, although Heryford has investigated five reports this year.

"We sit on the edge this time of year. March through May is the time that either people go out and make tracks, or whatever is making the tracks is on the move," he said.

One trail of footprints found in 1982 was discovered just north of the campgrounds on Porter Creek Road by a pastor on an outing with a group of children. Another trail was found near the Satsop River just south of the Satsop River Bridge by a picnicking family.

Tracks found in April 1982 were discovered south of Elma near Abbott Hill by two loggers. A week later, a trail was found near Oakville by a passerby, Heryford said.

He sent a hair sample found at the Abbott Hill site to a physical anthropologist in Arizona. In order to "test" the lab credibility, he also sent a human hair sample and asked the anthropologist to identify both samples.

He correctly identified the human hair, and said the other hair had a "non-human root," and did not "resemble known human or primate hairs on file."

Heryford had his first taste of Sasquatch sighting in 1977, when an 8-year-old boy returning from school reported seeing an 8-foot-tall creature jump from a tree near South Union Road just east of Elma.

The boy, who was "very upset," told Heryford later the large, brown furred creature had a furry face and long, hairy arms, which swung while it walked. "It appears it was more shy than anything. The kid took off running and looked back and saw it running in the opposite direction," Heryford said.

He collected hair samples and a plaster-of-paris footprint mold at the scene, but the evidence was later lost, he said, adding that he found roots chewed off ferns and saliva on fern shoots.

He said his interest in Sasquatch "snowballed" after the incident. "Some of the critics say the kid made the tracks, but there's no way he made them." While surveying the scene, Heryford said his "excellently trained" doberman pinscher refused to follow him along the footprint trail.

Sasquatch, which typically stands 8 to 10 feet tall and weighs 400 to 850 pounds with a shoulder span of 4 feet, was sighted in 1969 near Hoquiam by Verlin Herrington, a sheriff's deputy at the time, Heryford said.

Herrington reported seeing the creature 75 feet away on DeKay Road, off Ocean Beach Road north of Hoquiam.

"We have more evidence that it does exist than the people who say it doesn't. But people are afraid to go out on a limb and say it does exist," Heryford said, adding that the most undisputed evidence was presented by Roger Paterson, a Bigfoot buff who reportedly filmed the creature in Bluff Creek, in Northern California.

Heryford said he's run into his share of skeptics, but accepts the ribbing with a sense of humor. "Up until you bring in absolutely positive evidence, there will always be criticism. But then some people still don't believe we landed on the moon."

People are often reluctant to report findings for fear of ridicule, he added. "It's gotten to the point where people are afraid to say something, or when they do they get a finger pointed at them and then don't say anything again."

One reason Sasquatch trackers don't get the credibility Heryford thinks they deserve is because some trackers lack believability. "There are a lot of eccentrics in this business," he said, citing an instance in which one Bigfoot aficionado promulgated a theory that the creatures were 1,200-pound robots that arrived from outer space, with a home port in the North Pole.

The guy is a nut, and he tarnishes the credibility that we're trying to build."

In addition, some people sculpt phony footprints to fool trackers, he said, but bogus tracks usually are easily identified. "If there are people making tracks, they're making them in Washington, California, Oregon, Idaho, China and Tibet, and they sure have a pervasive knowledge of human anatomy."

Some trackers have "dropped the ball" by identifying bear prints as Sasquatch tracks, Heryford said, adding that bears often place their tracks on top of each other, making a large print similar to a Sasquatch track.

Lionel Brown, an archeologist at Grays Harbor College, agrees that bear prints are often mistakenly identified as Sasquatch tracks. "I find a lot of similarity between Sasquatch and bears. A lot of what people are seeing are bears walking around on their hind legs - they're very curious animals. And the hand and footprints are remarkably human."

While he follows academic research on the creature, Brown said he is "skeptical" of its existence. "I have an open mind on all things, but I have yet to see anything of substance that would lead me to believe such a critter exists," he said.

Noting that Sasquatch reports are a "yearly phenomenon," Brown said he received three reports of footprint findings this spring. Of the two he investigated, one was washed out and the other was "questionable," he said.

He added that he's wary of acknowledging the validity of prints since people have admitted making phony tracks.

Though universal legends of half-man, half-animal creatures lend credence to reports of sightings, Brown said "enigmatic footprints" are not enough to prove they exist.

"I am not one of the Sasquatch believers, but if I saw some concrete physical evidence, I would say it would warrant some investigation."

He noted that no bones have been found that could be identified as Sasquatch remains, but Heryford said people often assume bones discovered in the woods are animal remains. "Besides, how often do people go out and look specifically for Sasquatch bones?"

As a child growing up in Washington, Heryford said he wanted to believe in Sasquatch, but didn't have evidence to support its existence. "Now we have evidence to support it, but we still don't have a body, and until we do there will always be skeptics," the deputy said.

"I love fantasy and I want to believe there's room for fantasy. If there's not, man becomes boring as hell.

Bibliographical Information:

A picture with this article showing a man looking down at four plaster casts sitting upright against a fence, the man is holding a partial print in his hand... Heryford and some Bigfoot 'evidence'.

From the files of John Green

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