Undeniable Necessity

By Laura Altom

Like many people, I suppose, I could tiptoe around arguments of whether “to kill” or “not-to-kill” a Bigfoot. I can see justifying the taking of one of these creatures as a necessary scientific “specimen,” but the fact remains that, no matter the rationale behind these actions, bottom line, a kill is still a kill, and I don’t want a Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti or a Wood Ape to be killed. Whatever name is applied to this undocumented species, the last thing I want is to see one of these creatures destroyed in the name of science, or for any reason other than accidentally or in self-defense.

That said, I have seen one of these supposedly fictional creatures from a close enough range that I know them to be one hundred percent real. For years I have waged a daily battle within myself, a struggle between my desire to validate my claim versus my reluctance to see one killed. Is my wish for personal vindication along with the demands of science strong enough to see one of these creatures taken by force? My short answer—yes.

I had my sighting at about the age of ten. I was at camp, and “He” was no cuddly Harry and the Henderson’s prototype, but a massive white, ape-like creature straight from my nightmares. I know what I saw. This image is as fresh in my mind today as it was then. Yet, no one believes me. Not my parents, friends, business associates, husband, my children, my society.

Anyone who knows me has seen my passion for the topic. I have an impressive Bigfoot T-shirt collection and a bumper sticker on my car. I devote too much of my free time listening to Bigfoot podcasts and devouring sighting reports. Why? Because I find comfort in these shared experiences. It makes me feel better, knowing I’m not alone.

I’m a successful author, having sold well over a million copies of my books worldwide. I’ve been a public school teacher. I’m proud to be a contributing, law-abiding part of society, and I take my reputation very seriously. To be seen as a Bigfoot Crackpot would be devastating to me. But deeper than all of that, overriding every logical argument to run as far as I possibly can from this subject, is the voice inside me demanding to be publicly exonerated. I’m not crazy, I really did see a Bigfoot all those years ago, and you know what? So did most all of the other thousands of eyewitnesses whom society views as a few apples short of a bushel.

All of which leads me back to the kill or no-kill stance. Selfishly, my desire to see this species proven to be fact, once and for all, rather than fiction, overrides my warm and fuzzy wish that these creatures remain safe, but forever a myth.

It literally took me years of internal debate to even consider joining a “Bigfoot” group. Why did I ultimately choose the NAWAC? Because of any group out there—they get it. They are professional, scientifically-minded men and women who have literally devoted years of their lives to proving the existence of these creatures. They have zero tolerance for BS or spam-wars. Each time I’ve met with the group, I find myself more impressed with their methodology and yes, even their sensitivity regarding what—if a specimen is taken—will surely prove to be one of the greatest animal discoveries of my lifetime, if not all of our lifetimes.

Again, do I want to kill a Wood Ape? Not just no, but hell no! Do I think that, ultimately, having a body will be the only way to definitively answer the question of whether or not the creature even exists? Sadly, yes. We live in a world filled with hoaxers and fame-seekers who have made it virtually impossible for rational people to see past the garbage-fog of so-called evidence choking out any real proof that may exist.

After attending an inspirational lecture by Jane Goodall in Arkansas, I broached this topic with my parents—both former teachers and sane contributing members of society—and they not only questioned my association with this group, but strongly urged me to quit. My husband and children view my fascination with the topic of Bigfoot as a quirky hobby. As much as I love all of these people, none of them were there with me on the night this creature forever changed my view of the world by proving to me, at least, that “monsters” are real.

During the time I’ve belonged to the NAWAC, I can’t count the number of occasions I’ve pulled away. I feel like an imposter. A wannabe. I’m not an outdoorsman. I don’t have a military, medical, or scientific background. What I do have, however, is perhaps the most important qualification for belonging to this organization—I don’t just believe in this creature’s existence—I know it exists.

Until the rest of the world shares this knowledge, I can’t back down. The undeniable fact of this whole kill or no-kill debate is that unless there is a body, no one will ever fully believe in this creature’s existence. As abhorrent as I personally find the idea of killing even one of these creatures, I very much believe a specimen is needed. The amount of knowledge to potentially be gained by this lone sacrifice is incalculable and, ultimately, the resulting long-term conservation benefits for the surviving population of these creatures is undeniable.

(Laura Altom is a successful author and an Investigator with the North American Wood Ape Conservancy.)

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