May 16, 2019 I Nick Redfern

The Problems with the “British Bigfoot”

F.W. ‘Ted’ Holiday was the author of such ground-breaking and paradigm-shifting books as The Dragon and the Disc, The Great Orm of Loch Ness, and The Goblin Universe, all of which should be considered absolutely vital reading for cryptozoologists and Forteans, both seasoned and new. He famously stated the following with respect to the thorny matter of mysterious, hairy hominids in our very midst: "Real animals stay alive by eating. Giant primates, such as the gorilla, feed almost continuously during daylight, and in no dainty fashion. Bigfoot, however, allegedly lives in coastal evergreen forests which produce low-energy food of the poorest quality. It is impossible to imagine this miserable fare could sustain a race of eight-foot-high anthropoids." Holiday’s undeniably wise, and wholly justified, words were made in particular relation to the controversy surrounding the Bigfoot phenomenon in North America; yet, they are equally as relevant to the problem of such animals allegedly residing in the British Isles – and, quite possibly, even more relevant, too…

If the British Bigfoot is a "real" entity in some sense of the word, then it’s highly ironic in the extreme that the one theory for its existence that many people might assume to be the correct one - namely, that it is a creature of flesh and blood proportions that science and zoology have yet to classify or categorize - is, actually, the one least likely of all to provide a definitive, or even a remotely, potential, viable answer. Prevailing theories within the domain of mainstream cryptozoology (a description which some might consider to be the ultimate oxymoron!) certainly differ on the finer points of what Bigfoot is or is not, and what it may be or may not be. But, for most of those who adhere to the idea the creature is a living entity in the way most of us understand and interpret the term, the beast is some form of unknown ape, or, possibly, a surviving example of the presumed-extinct great ape known as Gigantopithecus, which roamed India, China, and Vietnam hundreds of thousands of years ago. And, while we can never rule out such possibilities when it comes to Bigfoot in the United States, the Yeti of the Himalayas, the Russian Almasty, China’s Yeren, and the Australian Yowie, on the matter of the British beast things are a tad more problematic. Well, no, actually, they are extremely problematic!

First, there is the problem of size. Not just of the creature (an issue that we will address shortly), but the scale of the country in which it is said to live. At its absolute longest point - from Land’s End, Cornwall, England to John o’Groats, Caithness, Scotland - Britain only extends to 603 miles (or, if you use the winding roads and travel by vehicle, 838 miles). And the population density of its sixty-million-plus people is 717 per square mile. Are we really to believe and accept that in such a small country, but one with a significantly-sized population, it has proved consistently impossible to find, classify, capture or kill at least one British Bigfoot or wild man? With 717 people, on average, inhabiting every square mile of the country, where are these immense beasts hiding? And, precisely how are they managing to remain consistently out of our hands? And, on top of that, we are faced with the major problem of food. Or, more correctly: what food?

If we take the stance that the British Bigfoot is a form of ape, one of the biggest and most important questions that needs answering is: on what does the creature live? There sure as hell is not a lot of wild bamboo in Britain - a food source that mountain gorillas, for example, thrive on. In fact, if one takes a good, long walk around any number of places where the British creature has been seen - such as the Cannock Chase, Dartmoor, Bolam Lake, the Shropshire Union Canal, the Cairngorms, the mountains of Wales, and both Rendlesham Forest and Sherwood Forest - what we actually notice is a marked lack of food that is rich in nourishment and vitamins. A fully grown mountain gorilla partakes of more than 140 types of plants, shoots, stems and leaves, and can eat up to sixty pounds of vegetation...each and every day. When one takes a look at their massive bulk, this is not surprising at all. But here’s the big problem: the average British Bigfoot is no smaller than the typical mountain gorilla. In some cases, it even dwarfs the mountain gorilla! Yet, we come back to that big problem in Britain: where is the food that allows - and must have allowed for centuries, given how long reports date back into recorded history - these immense ‘animals’ to live?

Well, maybe the British beasts have adapted to surviving on the type of nourishment that one typically finds in the average farmer’s fields, or orchards, in Britain. Not impossible, you might say, but if whole colonies of well-built, muscular beasts of six to eight feet tall are having to eat upwards of twenty kilograms of vegetation every day, of every week, of every year, of every decade, of every century - just to stay alive - then why aren’t the nations’ food-suppliers up in arms about all the mysteriously missing cabbages, sprouts, carrots, apples, potatoes, beans, and more? The answer is devastatingly simple, but equally devastatingly problematic when it comes to Bigfoot in Britain. The reason: nothing of great significance is going mysteriously missing on a massive, regular, country-wide scale, that’s why.

Taking another approach to resolving the problem of food, could it be that the British animal has really diversified and has, over numerous generations, developed a keen taste for meat, and not much else? Certainly, farm animals – sheep and the like - would make for the ideal fodder, if that is the case. And wild creatures, such as foxes and deer, are sometime found dead, partially or wholly eaten, or just badly mutilated, in locales where Bigfoot has been seen, including Cannock Chase and Rendlesham Forest. These particular events, however, are often seen as the work of so-called big cats, or they are the results of far more down to earth scenarios that involve cars, vans and lorries running into them late at night, and their drivers hastily and stealthily exiting the scenes, after which the smaller wild animals of the area then feed eagerly upon the carcasses, and the remains.

In 2007, it was revealed by Staffordshire County Council that, on average, a staggering 170 deer are killed each and every year on the Cannock Chase. That’s a figure of almost one every two days per year. But, here’s the important thing: those deaths are, for the most part, nearly always easily explainable via the aforementioned accidents involving various vehicles - very often driven by people speeding along the long, wide road that links the towns of Hednesford and Rugeley, and which cuts a dramatic and picturesque swathe right through the heart of the very Chase itself. The other important factor here is that there is zero evidence to suggest the bodies of these many animals are being stealthily hauled away by mysterious beasts after being hit by racing drivers. Yes, they may very well get gnawed and nibbled on by small, wild animals after dark, but on practically every occasion, they remain where they fall, which is generally in a smashed state on the tarmac, or, on the grass at the side of the road, having been hurled there by the pulverizing force of metal hitting flesh and bone at high speed. It is then the unenviable job of the council to dispatch workers to clean up the usually grisly mess, a task they perform very regularly, and which anyone can see them doing, if such is their warped idea of entertainment.

The only other possibility to account for how a Bigfoot just might survive by eating deer on Cannock Chase - and, I stress, I do not believe this to be the case, at all - is that Staffordshire County Council is engaged in a gigantic X-Files-type conspiracy to hide mountains of evidence that, each and every year, the bodies of hundreds of deer - after having been hit by cars, vans and lorries - are being grabbed by scavenger-style Bigfoot beasts all across the area, and then heartily and voraciously devoured. Such a scenario would most certainly make for a wonderfully entertaining cryptozoological novel, but for the world of reality? Forget it! And, let’s not lose sight of the fact that sightings of the British Bigfoot hail from all corners of the country, so such an unlikely conspiracy would have to be one of nationwide proportions - and which would make the possibility of keeping it under wraps even more unlikely.

Then there is the matter of habitat. Aside from stumbling upon the very occasional, so-called ‘Bigfoot Tepee’, nothing of any real substance has ever surfaced to offer a viable solution to certain, critically important questions: where on earth does the British Bigfoot live? Where do they mate? Where do they rear their young? The more we address such important questions, the less credible are the answers that come to the fore. Or, at least, they become less credible when we try and pigeon-hole the existence of the beasts into the flesh and blood camp. And, if you think that’s just my opinion, then you’re dead wrong.

Jon Downes, of the Center for Fortean Zoology, is sure that, although there is without doubt a British Bigfoot phenomenon of very real proportions, it is one that falls outside the domain of matters of a flesh and blood nature. And here he is to tell you precisely why: "Britain is a very small country and one of the best explored in the world. And there simply is not enough wild land for an unknown species of higher primate to live in. New species of animal do get discovered in Britain, but they are always small. The biggest thing to be discovered in Britain in recent years is a population of lizard, which is about nine inches long, living on the cliffs in Dorset. And the idea of a relatively small lizard living on cliffs in Dorset is pretty outstanding; but the idea of something the size of a gorilla living in Britain, in the wild, is ridiculous. And in the places where they have been reported, there simply is not enough food available for them to eat. Most of the higher primates are herbivorous, and there is not enough vegetation to supply the quantities and nutrients that a viable population of large primates would need. And even if they had adapted to living here on deer and rabbits, there just isn’t enough land for them to hide in and live in.

"Bolam Woods [the site of a huge, ape-like animal in 2002], is only around forty acres. It’s ridiculous to suggest that an animal the size of a gorilla could live there, so close to civilisation, and not be found. But, here’s one of the most important things of all: There’s nothing in the fossil record to indicate that a great ape has ever lived in Britain. Now, in Asia, where there is a fossil record of Gigantopithecus in the areas where the Yeti has been reported today. And, so, it is logical for the Yeti to be there. But, the lack of fossil evidence, not enough food, and not enough land, all rule out the idea of a great ape existing in Britain."

With that all said, whatever the British Bigfoot is, it's certainly not just an unidentified animal. It's much weirder...

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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