Dec 01, 2022 I Nick Redfern

When Cryptozoology Combines With Government Agencies

That might sound like a strange title for today's article, but, it's an absolute fact that the world of Cryptozoology has crossed paths with government agencies - and on many occasions, no less. With that said, let's have a look at some of the data. We'll begin with the Dog-Man/werewolf phenomenon. I started with this story because Linda Godfrey (who tragically passed away just a few days ago) always thought it was so amusing - and bizarre, too. Linda was right! It was funny! She said of the Dog-Man sightings in her area (Elkhorn, Wisconsin): “I started checking it out. I talked to the editor of The Week newspaper here, and which I used to work for. He said, ‘Why don’t you check around a little bit and see what you hear?’ This was about the end of December. And being a weekly newspaper that I worked for, we weren’t really hard news; we were much more feature oriented. So, I asked a friend who had a daughter in high school and she said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s what everybody’s talking about.’ So, I started my investigations and got one name from the woman who told me about it. She was also a part-time bus driver. “In my first phone call to the bus driver, she told me that she had called the County Animal Control Officer. So, of course, when you’re a reporter, anytime you have a chance to find anything official that’s where you go. I went to see him and, sure enough, he had a folder in his file draw that he had actually marked Werewolf, in a tongue-in-cheek way. People had been phoning in to him to say that they had seen something. They didn’t know what it was. But from their descriptions, that’s what he had put. So, of course, that made it a news story. When you have a public official, the County Animal Control Officer, who has a folder marked Werewolf, that’s news. It was very unusual."

(Nick Redfern) Dog-Man!

Now, onto a giant leviathan that the U.S. Government took significant interest in. It’s rare that a story of a monster crosses paths with the world of government. But, that’s exactly what happened when it came to the matter of a mysterious creature – or, rather, an alleged mysterious creature – said to have surfaced in the 1990s. It quickly became the subject of U.S. Navy interest. To fully understand the controversy, it’s necessary to go back in time to the 1960s, when the Cold War was still in full force. It was in that decade that the Navy established a top secret program known as SOSUS. It stood for Sound Surveillance System. Essentially, it was a vast network of underwater microphones that spanned much of the planet and which were designed to monitor for Russian submarines – and particularly so those that were equipped with atomic weapons. Today, the Cold War is over. The world, however, is still a dangerous place. Maybe even more so than back in the old days when we had only one enemy to worry about: the Soviets. As a result, the SOSUS detectors still exist, picking up on sound waves in what is termed the Deep Sound Channel.

(Nick Redfern) Massive creatures below?

It’s not just Russian (and, today, Chinese) subs that the U.S. military has recorded on its SOSUS equipment. Ships, earth-tremors, and even whales have been detected by the highly sophisticated technology. It’s technology that has been significantly improved upon since the old days and which is now overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is a section of the government’s Department of Commerce. All of which brings us to a certain, deeply puzzling, event that occurred in 1997. That was the year in which NOAA recorded a very weird, and very large, “something” in the waters of the South Pacific Ocean, west of South America’s most southern tip. Whatever “it” was, it certainly caught the attention of NOAA and the military, who nicknamed the anomaly “Bloop.” Whatever Bloop was, he, she or it was of a certain amplitude to be picked up on tracking equipment more than 5,000 kilometers from where its movements were recorded. More intriguing, within both NOAA and the Navy there were those who suspected the signature was suggestive of Bloop being a massive, unknown animal, such as a squid of unparalleled proportions. One might even be justified in saying something akin to H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu or the legendary Kraken. On the other hand, though, some wondered the answer was nothing more than an iceberg. Who knows?

In 2007, I penned an article for my There’s something in the Woods blog. The article was titled “Do Werewolves Roam the Woods of England?” It was an article that focused on a strange wave of sightings of hairy, upright bipedal creatures that looked like hair-covered humans and which were seen in the heart of England’s Cannock Chase woods. But with one big difference: the heads of the terrible beasts closely resembled those of wolves. No wonder, then, that word very quickly got out that a pack of deadly werewolves was on the loose in the area. Such is the strength with which the old traditions and folklore still prevail in the UK, even the local newspaper, the Chase Post, gave the reports significant coverage. And they did so in serious, rather than fun-poking, tones. That the vast majority of the encounters occurred in the vicinity of an old cemetery only served to increase the anxiety that quickly spread throughout the local villages and hamlets. 

When my article appeared online, it quickly provoked numerous comments. One of those comments came from a former member of the US military who, in 1970, was stationed at a certain British Royal Air Force facility in the UK. Using the name of “Wes,” he related the following: “I encountered a werewolf (lack of better description) in England in 1970, I was 20 yrs. old when I was stationed at RAF Alconbury. I was in a secure weapons storage area when I encountered it. It seemed shocked and surprised to been caught off guard and I froze in total fright. I was armed with a .38 and never once considered using it. There was no aggression on its part. I could not comprehend what I was seeing. It is not human. It has a flat snout and large eyes. Its height is approx. 5 ft. and weight approx. 200 lbs. It is very muscular and thin. It wore no clothing and was only moderately hairy. It ran away on its hind legs and scurried over a chain link fence and ran deep into the dense wooded area adjacent to the base. I was extremely frightened but the fear developed into a total commitment of trying to contact it again. I was obsessed with it. I was able to see it again a few weeks later at a distance in the wooded area. I watched it for about 30 seconds slowly moving throughout the woods and I will never forget my good fortune to encounter it…and to know this ‘creature’ truly does lives among us.”

(Nick Redfern) The Cannock Chase woods: home to a werewolf or several

As incredible as it may sound, and taking into consideration the bizarre events of 2007 in the mysterious woods of the Cannock Chase, Wes is undeniably correct in his stance that such infernal monsters are “among us.” It’s a chilling thought that werewolves are not merely the product of horror-writers, Hollywood, and ancient folklore and mythology. It would be wise to remember that if, late one night, you find yourself walking through dense and ancient woodland, or taking a short-cut through a creepy, old graveyard. And particularly so on a night when the moon shines brightly and full. Pray you don’t hear a loud, animalistic howl. Now, let's move on:

Situated in Idaho, Lake Pend Oreille is a huge expanse of water that extends in excess of forty miles in length and 1,000 feet in depth. And, it might accurately be said that the lake is the home to a creature not unlike Loch Ness, Scotland’s legendary Nessie. On the other hand, however, Lake Pen Oreille’s lake monster – known locally as Paddler – might be something even stranger. Sightings of the prehistoric-looking thing date back to the 1940s and continue to the present day. A particularly spectacular encounter with Paddler occurred on Memorial Day 1985. That was when a woman named Julie Green was on the lake with several friends when they all caught sight of something huge and fantastic: a large, gray-colored thing racing across the lake, seemingly partially above and below the surface of the water. That the thing was only around 600 feet away meant Green and her friends were able to determine that whatever it was, it wasn’t a wave. Then, in 1996, the Groves family of Pasadena, California – vacationing with family who lived in the lake area – reported seeing early on a Sunday morning a large, gray-colored object break the waters. It was described as resembling the back of an elephant, in both color and size. Needless to say, Lake Pen Oreille isn’t home to a herd of elephants that enjoy taking morning swims. 

(Nick Redfern) Secret military submarines or a creature of the deep?

While monster hunters are content to suggest that Paddler (or the Paddlers) is either an unknown animal or one from the Jurassic era that survived extinction, there is another explanation for the presence of the monster. It’s a very alternative explanation, too. Patrick Huyghe is someone who has undertaken extensive research into the saga of Paddler and he has noted something that be of deep and relevant significance: “The very first mention of Paddler came straight from the Navy’s own Farragut Naval Training Station, established on the southwestern end of Lake Pend Oreille in 1942.” Built in response to the terrible and tragic events at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the FNTS was created at Lake Pend Oreille and though which around 290,000 servicemen and women passed, as the hostilities with the Axis powers grew. What is particularly interesting, however, is that in the post-war era – that’s to say, after 1945 – the Navy presence on the lake began to change. The one arm that began to play a more substantial role was the Navy’s Acoustic Research Department. The ARD says of its work: “Unique experimental hardware and floating platforms have been developed” at the naval facilities on Lake Pend Oreille, noting too that, “future plans include continuation of sonar dome development and submarine silencing and target strength reduction experiments using large-scaled models.”

One has to wonder if some of these “unique experimental hardware,” “floating platforms,” and “large-scale models” may have been responsible for at least some sightings of what the witnesses believed was Paddler. Patrick Huyghe notes something that is supportive of this particular theory: “In 1949 and 1950, a few years after this secret Navy test site opened, the next two accounts of the lake monster appeared in local newspapers.” It’s not at all unlikely – or unfeasible – that the U.S. Navy might secretly spread tales of lake-monsters, such as Paddler, to divert people from learning the truth of what was really afoot deep in Lake Pend Oreille; namely the covert testing of new sub-surface military vehicles of a highly classified, experimental nature. Now, how about a giant snake and the CIA?

While there are numerous reports of people encountering massive snakes in the jungles of our world, certainly the strangest case on record is one that involves none other than the Central Intelligence Agency – the CIA. The story is an intrigue-filled one, which is part-James Bond and part-Indiana Jones. And it all began – and violently ended, too - in 1956. CIA personnel based out of the American Embassy in Bolivia were used to dealing with unpredictable and strange events. But, even by their standards, the events that went down in August 1956, were off the scale. In the early days of the month, CIA staff received reports of a gigantic snake on the loose in a nearby, rarely explored, cave that was buried deeply within the mountainous, jungle environment. And when I say gigantic, we’re talking about somewhere between thirty and fifty feet long. 

Worse still, a spate of mysterious disappearances of people from a nearby tribe had just about everyone on edge. The tribespeople were sure that the culprit was the deadly beast, and there were even rumors that the monster possessed supernatural powers. Time came when something had to be done and a call was put into the CIA by local Bolivian authorities, asking for help. While hunting for a giant snake was hardly the kind of thing that CIA agents typically got involved in (to say the least!) they agreed to give it a go. A six-person team was put together by a man we only know as “Lee,” and who led the group deep into the jungle. They were prepared to take on the man-eater; but, as circumstances would demonstrate, it turned out to be a very close call. The supersized snake was not about to go down without a fight. As Lee’s team climbed the heavily wooded hill and arrived at the small entrance to the cave where the snake made its lair, one and all stayed as silent as possible and began to prepare for a potentially deadly confrontation with the massive beast. The snake lost.

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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