It would very likely be the greatest discovery in American history–if not all of the world–if the remains of a Sasquatch, North America’s alleged great ape, were actually found. While this possibility seems to remain in the “highly unlikely” camp, continuing reports of sightings of such creatures in North America and elsewhere keep us wondering, “what if?”
Of course, if Sasquatch does really live, and these creatures represent a small, but still extant breeding population, then they obviously must die as well. In part one of this post, we began looking at the question of what would happen in the unlikely event that such a creature’s remains were found, and what kinds of policies and procedures it would likely entail.
As I stated in that initial post, a discovery of this magnitude would garner a lot of attention from the scientific community in disciplines like biology and primatology. But where would things go from there, and what kinds of agencies would become involved on the federal level?
It is not impossible that the FBI or some similar agency might become involved in some way, especially if there was concern about a possible homicide, the transport of remains across state lines, etc. Earlier this year it was reported that the FBI had released its file on Bigfoot, which detailed a hair sample analysis performed by the Bureau at the request of Peter Byrne, a conservationist and animal tracker who spent decades in search of the creature.
This analysis was very likely carried out at the Bureau’s Laboratory at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Quantico, Virginia. Although this shows that the FBI has assisted on at least one occasion in attempting to identify possible physical evidence of Sasquatch, it does not necessarily establish precedent that they are always involved in such things… if anything, the sole example detailed in the Bureau’s only files on the subject would seem to suggest just the opposite.
It is often suggested by the more conspiratorially-minded proponents of the creature’s existence that the reason we allegedly haven’t found one yet has to do with the fact that the government would attempt to “cover-up” this fact. While this seems unlikely in my opinion, I certainly have wondered on occasion whether there are branches of government that could issue retrieval orders for such a specimen, if it were ever found.
My reason for considering this has to do with an odd claim made by the late J.E. “Smokey” Crabtree, a trapper and entrepreneur from Fouke, Arkansas, who appeared in Charles B. Pierce’s famous film The Legend of Boggy Creek. Crabtree self-published a pair of books about his life and adventures looking for Fouke’s alleged equivalent to Sasquatch, and in his second book, Too Close to the Mirror, he makes a rather interesting claim.
At one point, Crabtree managed to obtain the remains of an unidentifiable creature from the Texarkana area (I have it from reliable sources, in hindsight, that this had likely been an exotic pet along the lines of a tiger, panther, or some similar large feline). For a time, Crabtree promoted the discovery as the remains of the “Fouke Monster,” hosting small public viewings and allowing people to see the “creature” for a few dollars. It wasn’t long before he began getting calls about the specimen, including a few threatening ones.
Crabtree describes one of the instances in his book, Too Close to the Mirror:
“Then came a phone call from a man who said he was with the Smithsonian Institute and the United States Government had issued orders for them to come down and confiscate the unidentified skeleton that I had in my possession. He told me they would arrive the next day and would be taking the skeleton with them. By this time I was getting pretty fed up with all the threats and decided to make a few myself. I was very nice about it but I told him to bring some food with him because he would be here quite a while, and to please bring some very good identification with him. Needless to say neither he nor anyone else from the Smithsonian Institute ever showed up.”
Crabtree never seemed like the type to exaggerate or make false claims (I spoke to him on one occasion on the telephone, and although very pleasant, he wasn’t the type that would take any grief from anyone). Based on the account given here, it seems that this incident was most likely a prank, or possibly a ruse which involved a third party attempting to obtain the remains by posing as Smithsonian personnel (which Crabtree even seems to hint at himself, in noting, “Needless to say neither he nor anyone else from the Smithsonian Institute ever showed up.”)
In addition to this, I don’t know of any agencies with the U.S. government that would issue orders to the Smithsonian to retrieve such remains; however, since we know that law enforcement on the state level does occasionally employ the assistance of the Smithsonian Institute, it is perhaps not inconceivable, at very least, that some branch of the U.S. government or federal law enforcement (like the FBI) might do the same, if it seemed warranted.
Something else that would likely occur once the body of a Sasquatch had been discovered is that the remains would be designated as a new species, and would likely fall under protection in accordance with the Endangered Species Act. According to a December 1977 U.S. Fish and Wildlife report titled, “Are We Ready for ‘Bigfoot’ or the Loch Ness Monster?”, a number of considerations under U.S. law arise here, as well.
“[B]efore a creature can receive protection under the Endangered Species Act, a number of actions normally must occur which involve recommendations from the public, scientists, and State and foreign governments where the species exists,” the report states.
“The first of these would be the species’ formal description and naming in a recognized scientific publication. In addition, if it were a U.S. species, the Governor of the, State where it was found would be contacted, as would the officials of foreign governments if it were found outside the United States. Only after such information was collected could the Service make a formal determination as to whether the species should be afforded endangered or threatened status.”
Additionally, the Secretary of the Interior may add a species to the threatened or endangered species list on an emergency basis, and for a period of up to 120 days. “For endangered species in the United States, the Secretary can also designate habitat that is critical to their survival. No Federal agency could then authorize, fund, or carry out any activities which would adversely modify that habitat.”
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Report, “long-term Federal protection of… Bigfoot would basically be a matter of following the same regulatory mechanisms already used in protecting whooping cranes and tigers.” Since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department is the only governmental body on the federal level (that I know of) which states any such policy in relation to the Sasquatch, presumably once (or if) the discovery of such a creature’s remains passed into the hands of state anthropologists, further coordination with USFW would be undertaken to follow the aforementioned “regulatory mechanisms” in order to place the species under any protections applicable under U.S. federal law.
All of this is hypothetical, of course, since at present there are no known instances where Sasquatch remains have been recovered, let alone many regulatory bodies that have weighed in with specifics on what should be done if one were found. However, what I’ve outlined here seems to be the way things would be likely to proceed, accounting for minor differences pertaining to individual state laws, etc. All of that, of course, in the unlikely event that a Sasquatch body was indeed ever to be found.
Of course, I remain hopeful that perhaps there actually are creatures like this out there someplace. I realize that by the standards of today it is often deemed a “crackpot” idea (and this coming from a blogger whose writing at this site is more skeptically-inclined than most of my peers). Bygone are the days when credible and qualified scientists the likes of primatologist John Napier, anthropologist Grover Krantz, archaeologist Myra Shackley, ethnohistorian Roderick Sprague, and many others were willing to toss their hats into the ring on this controversial subject. The few hold-outs today, most notably Jeffery Meldrum, Ph.D., are all-too-familiar with the “ridicule factor” that plagues academics that become involved with serious inquiries into the Sasquatch phenomenon.
Nonetheless, echoing the words of the late John Napier, I feel that all of this must be evidence for something… whatever that might eventually being. And in the event that a body actually was ever found, at least maybe we have some idea, as indicated here, as to what would happen thereafter.