In response to "Would You Shoot Bigfoot?"

On May 3, 2012, Outdoor Life magazine published an article on their Newshound blog entitled "Would You Shoot Bigfoot?" In it, there were a number of factual errors and misrepresentations of NAWAC policy that needed to be corrected. Here is the NAWAC response sent to Outdoor Life blogger Gayne Young today:

Allow me to correct a few misrepresentations that appeared in your article. 

First, The North American Wood Ape Conservancy is an IRS-recognized tax-exempt 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a board of directors elected by its membership in accordance to its bylaws. Loren Coleman is not and has never been a member of our group, let alone on its board. His only association has been as an honorary advisor. Even so, there has been no communication between Mr. Coleman and the group for several years.

Second, the NAWAC is not "pro-kill." Our mission statement says our purpose, among other things, is to "facilitate scientific, official and governmental recognition, conservation, and protection of the species and its habitat." Our goal is to protect the animal, not to make them into a game animal so we can mount them to a wall. It is true that many of our members advocate the collection of a type specimen. How do we reconcile that with our mission to protect the animal? 

In fact, we believe there is ample circumstantial evidence in the form of witness accounts, footprints, and some photographic examples to initiate a concerted scientific study, but after more than 50 years in our popular culture, that study has not taken place. Bigfoot is, to many, a joke. A myth. All evidence to the contrary, as far as "serious" people are concerned, bigfoot does not exist because, so far, no physical remains have been brought forward. There is an established scientific method for the recognition of new animal species. There are very few examples of an animal being listed through photographs or even DNA evidence alone. A specimen is required.

As the Animal Ethics Review Panel states in their article "Collection of voucher specimens": 

Conservation needs are impossible to assess without the ability to recognise and differentiate species. Thus, identification, although often taken for granted, is fundamental to any animal-based study and particularly important when studying native animals.

Our primary mission is to conserve these animals. They cannot be conserved until they are accepted as fact. They will not be accepted as fact until a type specimen is produced. It's as simple as that.

Many of our critics are decidedly anti-scientific in their positions. They're very emotional and hold romantic notions regarding what is clearly not a human or human-like animal. They assume that since it can walk on two legs that it must be human, but in fact, wood apes are not known to exhibit any other attributes commonly accepted as differentiating us from the other animals on earth. It is our opinion, based on years of experience, that they are intelligent animals, to be sure. Not unlike orangutans in many ways. But human, no. Not even close.

The NAWAC is not "pro-kill"; it is "pro-science." We are a group of citizen naturalists doing the work of science the best we can with our all-volunteer resources and training. We will only know success when the wood ape is listed among the world's primates while critics like Mr. Coleman can only succeed if bigfoot remains on the fringes as a cultural oddity. We have divergent and incompatible interests. Severing our association with him was long overdue.

Brian Brown
North American Wood Ape Conservancy 
Board Member and Media Coordinator

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