Despite decades of fruitless searching, Bigfoot continues to capture our imagination. Sightings of the legendary creature remain rampant throughout North America and the mythical hairy biped is all over our popular culture these days, popping up in everything from beef jerky advertisements to pornography and even political campaigns. Sometimes at the same time. Yuck.
Bigfoot may have seen a massive resurgence in popularity in recent years, but study of the ape-man remains mostly relegated to the cesspool of cable TV or the fringes of amateur research. While some legitimate scientific have been conducted on various artifacts, footage, and photographs over the years, serious study of Bigfoot remains somewhat taboo in most scientific communities. UFO researchers and ghost hunters can relate.
It turns out, though, that some of America’s acronym-bearing intelligence and law enforcement agencies have taken a look into alleged sightings of Bigfoot or his international relatives over the years. The latest revelation concerning The Man’s interest in the paranormal come by way of the FBI. New FOIA documents obtained by John Greenwald Jr. at The Black Vault show that the FBI once took the legendary skunk ape seriously enough to examine a clump of 15 unidentified hairs claimed to be from the large-footed one itself. Could the FBI possess evidence of the existence of the legendary creature?
Trick question: we all know the really good stuff never leaves a paper trail and ends up in that warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Still, these documents add to the growing body of evidence that shows the Feds have taken more of an interest in the anomalous over the years than they may let on. These latest documents are far from a smoking gun (steaming footprint?), but at least show that the FBI took the alleged Bigfoot hair seriously enough to analyze it in their own labs.
The documents consist mainly of correspondence that took place in 1976 between Peter Byrne, former director of the now-defunct Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition in Oregon, and FBI Assistant Director Jay Cochran Jr. Byrne sent the samples to the FBI, writing that “we do not often come across hair which we are unable to identify and the hair that we have now, about 15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin, is the first that we have obtained in six years which we feel may be of importance.” Cochran took Byrne’s request in stride, replying that while the Bureau typically doesn’t assist in these types of studies, it would let it slide this one time:
The FBI Laboratory conducts examinations primarily of physical evidence for law enforcement agencies in connection with criminal investigations. Occasionally, on a case-by-case basis, in the interest of research and scientific inquiry, we make exceptions to this general policy. With this understanding, we will examine the hairs and tissue mentioned in your letter.
Another memo in the documents notes that “this does not represent a change in Bureau policy” but that the FBI’s labs sometimes assist with these types of requests “in the interest of research and legitimate scientific inquiry.” The hairs were eventually sent to the Academy of Applied Science in Boston, after which it was determined that “the hairs are of deer family origin” based on their microscopic structure and comparisons with known deer samples.
I just have to wonder, though: let’s say that someone found actual evidence of Bigfoot and sent it to the FBI for analysis; would the Bureau ever really reveal the existence of the legendary creature? Think how many gun-wielding would-be Bigfoot-slayers would descend upon whatever heavily forested area that evidence was found in, ready to make history with guns loaded and adrenaline running high. Accidental shootings would be in the dozens. It’s happened before.
Stay frosty, Bigfoot.