Saturday, March 31, 2012

Man Claims Black Bear Saved Him From Mountain Lion Attack

In the mood for an incredible story? Good, because I’ve got a doozy for you.

A 69-year old man from Butte County, California claims to have been attacked by a mountain lion on a recent hiking trip along the Feather River. The story of how this gentleman survived a cougar attack would be an interesting one if that was all there was to it; however, the story of how he was saved from the big cat is really what makes this story unique.

Bob Biggs, a man who says he has been hiking for decades, was trekking along the Feather River when he came across a black bear. Actually, he saw three bears; a sow, her yearling, and a much younger cub. Biggs says he had seen this female twice before. He and the bear made eye contact briefly before he decided to back away and retreat down stream.

Here is where it gets interesting.

Biggs says it was at this point that a mountain lion, that he estimates weighed about 100 lbs., pounced on him. He speculates the lion might have been stalking the bears in the hopes of picking off the smallest cub.

“I got in between it and the cub. When I turned around I think it might have thought I was coming after it,” he said. “I got hit from behind and knocked to my knees. This mountain lion grabs me from the left side of the rear and climbs up on my back and just starts shaking.”

Biggs says he began swinging at the big cat with a rock pick that he was carrying and was prepared for the fight of his life.

“I come around and come swinging, hit it in the side of the head and it screams,” said Biggs.

Even so, the lion refused to stop the attack.

It is at this point that the story veers from interesting to the incredible.

“As I’m coming around (to swing the rock pick a second time) I see something coming from the left and it was the bear grabbing the throat of the mountain lion and it just shook it,” said Biggs.

According to Biggs, the sow bear he had come across moments earlier had come charging to his rescue. He says the bear swatted the cat off of his back and briefly engaged it before the lion ran off. The bear then calmly walked back down to the riverbank and resumed doing what bears do.

Bob Biggs has shared his story to rather mixed reviews. Some are absolutely amazed by his tale and believe that a bear he had become familiar with acted as his protector.

Others aren’t so sure.

Andrew Hughan, a spokesman for the California Fish and Game Commisssion said, “The evidence right now says inconclusive but he does live in mountain lion country.” He added, “There’s never been a case we can document of one animal attacking another in order to save a person.”

What of Biggs’ theory that the sow bear was taking on the role of protector for a human she had come to know over the course of several months?

“Bears do not have a memory of people,” said Hughan.

The story Bob Biggs tells is truly incredible, maybe too incredible to be believed by most people. I really don’t know what to think about it. I do not believe the assertion of Andrew Hughan that bears are incapable of recognizing humans with which they’ve become familiar. I think that is selling the species short. Now, whether a bear would defend a human just because it was familiar with him is another question all together.

The story is hard to believe. I, however, have become sort of an expert on hard to believe stories. I’ve been in the position of Bob Biggs and have come to realize that not all amazing stories are hoaxes.For his part, Bob Biggs is standing by his story and insists he isn't lying about his encounter.

Is he telling the truth? Only he knows for sure.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

21 Degrees Between Bigfoot and You

Check out the video below. I've seen and heard presentations on Patty's stride length and "foot-rise" before but I thought this was presented very well and made the argument easy to visualize and understand.

I would be very interested in hearing opinion from all of you out there.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gorilla Practical Jokes and the Sasquatch Parallel

I’m providing a link below to a video entitled Gorilla Pranks Zoo Workers. I would have liked to embed the video here for easier viewing but that option was not enabled on YouTube. So, please humor me and take a look at the clip here.

The 27-second video clip features a large silverback gorilla throwing a piece of sod at zoo workers who are going about their business in an adjacent enclosure. The big male casually makes his way to an area where the turf is loose, digs out a piece, and then quickly moves toward the workers using his momentum to make a powerful overhand throw. The people shooting the video get quite a kick out of this behavior and their laughter is audible as the gorilla quickly flees the scene after chucking the piece of turf. There isn’t much doubt that this is a clip suitable for America’s Funniest Videos. It is, indeed, humorous.

I think there is more to be learned from it, however.

First, notice how the big silverback stops far short of the patch of ground that is not covered in grass. Granted, the big fella has very long arms but it would have been easier to get to and pull up the piece of sod had he gotten a bit closer. Could this be an effort to not leave trace evidence of his presence (tracks)? Chimpanzees are known to cover their tracks. This implies that the great apes have a sense of self-awareness far greater than that of most animals. Could this gorilla be making a concerted effort to avoid leaving signs of his presence at the “scene of the crime?” Maybe. I’m reminded a bit of some of the circumstances surrounding the collection of the Skookum cast. The cast is thought to be of a body print of a sasquatch by many and was taken from a muddy elk wallow in Skamania County, Washington that had been baited with fruit. You can get more detail on the Skookum cast here. While controversial, many feel this cast is one of the very best pieces of physical evidence ever collected that points to the sasquatch being a real flesh and blood animal.

According to the theory, the sasquatch actually lay down in order to reach out and grab the fruit in the middle of the mud hole. Why? It would have been very easy for the animal to simply take a step into the wallow and grab the bait. The only thing that really makes sense is that the creature was doing its very best to avoid leaving footprints. The long arms often described by sasquatch witnesses, not unlike the arms on the silverback in the video, would have helped in this endeavor. One might argue that this behavior would not make much sense for an animal that lives its life in a zoo. Instincts are quite powerful, however, and animals continue to do what they are born to do even in zoos.

The second thing that really struck me was how the gorilla threw the sod. To say it was a true overhand motion would not be accurate but, to put it in baseball terms, it was at least a three-quarter motion. Many have seen monkeys and chimps toss rocks, limbs, nuts, etc. in a clumsy underhanded motion. To see a non-human primate throw an object in a powerful overhand manner is pretty special. Rock and limb throwing is a behavior that has often been attributed to sasquatches. Often, these projectiles have been hurled at a high velocity. Skeptics have argued that only humans can throw objects in such a manner. This video would seem to suggest otherwise. While the silverback’s motion is not as fluid as that of a human throwing a baseball, he effectively uses a running start to build momentum and, thus, velocity on his throw. Imagine instead of a clump of dirt and grass it had been a softball-sized rock thrown at this velocity. It could have caused some damage. I have been in remote locations when rocks and sticks have been thrown. Sometimes people have been the targets and other times vehicles, cabins, or other objects have been in the line of fire. If one can acknowledge the possibility the sasquatch actually exists, then it shouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think it would engage in this sort of activity. One curious aspect to all of this is that, while objects have landed very near me and other people I know, nobody has ever actually been hit. Inanimate objects, on the other hand, routinely take a beating. Are sasquatches inaccurate throwers or, to the contrary, quite accurate. Are the objects thrown in the directions of humans meant as a warning? Do they miss humans on purpose and differentiate between living beings and inanimate objects? If so, it hints that these creatures are actually very accurate when throwing objects. Could this aid them in hunting? As usual, there are many, many more questions than answers.

The final behavior exhibited by the silverback in the video that we might be able to learn something from is how he flees immediately after making his throw. He doesn’t even wait for the sod to land before he is on the run. This, much like the act of avoiding leaving tracks, is instinctual. He did not want to be seen by the targets of his throw. Now, he isn’t really fooling anyone, as the zoo workers know who lives in the enclosure next door; however, he doesn’t know that or, likely, care. The gorilla is following his instincts and getting out of Dodge after doing something that would draw eyes to his location. Again, there would seem to be a correlation to this behavior and that of sasquatches who engage in rock and stick throwing in the most remote corners of North America. Think about it. When an object lands near you the first thing that happens is that your eyes go to where the object landed. Only after this do you turn your head to look in the direction from which the object came. If the sasquatch behaves like the gorilla in the clip then it would already be retreating to a concealed spot before any object it throws hits the ground. Add to this that the sasquatch is thought to be larger than a mountain gorilla and capable of bipedal movement and you have an animal that could likely throw objects from longer distances. This being the case, you would have almost zero chance to catch one of these creatures in the act.

All of this is speculation, of course, but that is pretty much all we can do for now. I do feel strongly that my theories are not wild or baseless. All my thoughts are based on physical descriptions of the sasquatch given to us by witnesses, known and observed great ape behaviors, and personal experiences. I think the only way my speculations sound foolish is if you cannot or will not accept the possibility that the sasquatch exists. If that is your position then it likely doesn’t matter what sort of argument I, or anyone else, presents.

Not having that bias, I see more and more parallels between known great ape behaviors and those attributed to the sasquatch by witnesses.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Prodigal Cryptid Hunter Returns

I have returned from an exhausting, but incredibly enjoyable, spring break vacation with my family.

My oldest daughter is in the marching band at her high school (head drum major, actually). Each year the band makes an end of the year trip somewhere to march in a parade and have some fun. Every four years they go to Florida to march in the end of the day parade at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. This takes place just before Disney’s Electrical Parade comes through and marks the end of the park’s day. This was the year for the Disney trip so my wife and I volunteered to be chaperones for the band and, along with my youngest daughter, made the trip via charter bus from Central Texas to Florida.

We left on Friday 3/9 at about 10:00 a.m. We drove all through the day and night and arrived at Disney’s Epcot Center Saturday morning. We went straight into the park with no stop at the hotel, unpacking, rest, etc. We closed the park down that night before finally checking into our hotel. We slept for about 5 hours and were up and on our way to the Magic Kingdom. We spent the day in the park before the kids dressed up in their uniforms and marched in the parade. The parade started near the entrance and came right down Main Street to finish up at Cinderella’s castle. It was extremely cool to see my little girl leading a band of 214 kids down the middle of Disney World. Pretty proud Papa, to say the least. After that, it was back to the hotel for a few hours of rest before getting up and hitting Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios the next day. We split the day between these two parks. I really would have liked to have stayed at the Animal Kingdom park longer but it was not to be on this trip. We finished up the tour of parks by spending the next day at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. We stayed until the park closed at 9:00 p.m. and boarded the buses and headed home. We drove 22 straight hours and arrived home about 7:00 p.m. For those of you counting, that is 5 parks in 4 days. Obviously, it was a trip meant for the young.

One of the highlights of the trip for this crypto-nerd was the Expedition Everest roller-coaster in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The ride’s theme is firmly centered around the yeti legend. The area around the “mountain” is created to look like a Himalayan village. While waiting in line you are treated to several glass cases featuring copies (I guess they are copies) of yeti artifacts. Track cast reproductions, photos, hair samples, etc. are featured prominently. There is even a small yeti museum you can tour on the way out after finishing the ride. The ride itself starts with a yeti roar and a menacing silhouette that darts across the wall in front of you as you begin to make the ascent up the mountain. The ride is a fairly typical coaster until it comes to the highest point on the mountain. The track abruptly ends there and just for a moment you have the illusion that you are about to fly off the mountain into space. What is really cool is that the coaster briefly stops there and you see the track has been “ripped up” by the yeti. The footprints in the “snow” tell the whole story. The coaster then goes into reverse briefly before you resume your journey down the mountain. The yeti himself menaces the coaster riders at the very end of the ride as you make the steepest drop. You have to look quick, however, as, just like real-life sightings, you only get a quick glance of the beast before the moment is gone. I rode the ride twice and totally missed the yeti the first time.

The last couple of days have been spent catching up on much needed sleep.

It was a great time and I appreciate your humoring me by reading my vacation notes. I will stop now before this becomes something akin to having to sit and look at some obscure relative's slides of their trip to Branson. The real reason I started this post was to let you all know that my schedule should be getting back to normal shortly. This will afford me the opportunity to get back to posting regularly.

So, I’ll be back soon with something more along the lines of what you all are used to seeing here.

My best…

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Lost Month

I have not been very active on the blogging front over the last four weeks or so. There are several reasons for that. I won't bore you with all the details but, needless to say, it has been crazy busy.

I'm afraid that I won't be doing any better for the next week or so. I'm going to be spending the better part of the next week enjoying spring break with my family. I'm really looking forward to some time off with them and the opportunity to recharge my batteries a bit.

While my idea of fun would be camping out in a remote location, this week will be more along the lines of what my girls enjoy. That being the case, unless a sasquatch or black panther runs across the highway in front of us during our travels, there won't be much in the way of cryptid or out of place animal news for the next week or so.

I do look forward to getting things cranked back up once I get back. Until then, my best to you all.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bobcats, Blood, and Broken Cameras

I got out to check on my game cameras this weekend. As usual, I was very excited about the prospect of getting some great wildlife photos. Things were not to work out exactly as planned, however.

Those of you who have been following my Bell County camera project know that I had four cameras deployed along a dry creek bed that I’ve found to be sort of a “wildlife highway.” This travel route has proven to be very productive for me and I’ve netted some terrific photos.

The creek bed is dry most of the time and only has significant water flow during and after a heavy rain. The water level can get high very fast when a significant rain event occurs. I took all of this into account when I placed the cameras. I thought I had placed them high enough that rising water would not be a factor. Turns out I was wrong. About two weeks ago a significant amount of rain fell on Bell County. This was during the time I was in Amarillo attending a funeral. I knew the rains had moved in and the water would be rising but there was nothing I could do about it and, as I said before, I thought I had placed the cameras high enough to be out of harms way.

I arrived on site yesterday afternoon and quickly discovered 3 out of 4 cameras had been at least partially submerged by rising water during the storm. My peaceful little run off creek had, ever so briefly, turned into a raging torrent that consumed my cameras. Miraculously, the SD cards in the cameras were not ruined and yielded the images that had been captured prior to the flash flood. The cameras themselves, however, failed to respond to new batteries and appear to be non functional. I’m hoping once I clean them up and get them completely dried out they will get back to working order but I’m not optimistic.

There was some good news. It occurred when I checked on the one camera that was not damaged by water. During my previous maintenance trip I had located a great looking spot above and parallel to the creek bed that seemed tailor-made for a camera. Two well-worn game trails intersected at this spot and I thought it would be good strategy to have a camera located here. I posited that this would be a good alternate route for the local wildlife during times when the creek held water. Turns out I was right and I got some absolutely great shots. The highlights of the set were the bobcat photos I captured. Two adult bobcats were photographed multiple times as they came and went along these intersecting trails.

I’d managed to photograph these two before but never at such close range and with such clarity. They are two striking cats. One is a golden color with a leopard-like spot pattern. The second cat is really beautiful. It, too, is a gold color but its markings are more reminiscent of an ocelot with lots of dark spots and black stripes along its back. I was particularly pleased to get some shots that showed the faces of these two cats. When you get shots like these it reminds you that all the trouble and expense is worth it. There is just no way a guy like me could ever capture photographs like this any other way.

While I remained slightly down over the loss of 3 cameras, these photos did raise my spirits quite a bit. Knowing this camera was on high ground and safe from rising water also helped. I replaced the batteries and memory card, reset the camera, and was on my way. This is when things got really painful.

To extricate myself from the area I had to cross the creek bed. Never have I had any trouble but this time as I stepped up onto the opposite bank my foot slid out from under me and down I went. I fell forward and tried to catch myself. My right hand slammed down onto something very sharp before I tumbled back down the slope and into the rocky creek. I wish I could tell you that I hopped right back up none the worse for wear but I banged myself up pretty good. Maybe back in my 20’s I would have escaped unscathed but I’m 45 now and things seem to hurt more than they used to. I sat up and slowly tested myself out to make sure I hadn’t broken anything. Satisfied that my bones were intact, I turned my attention to my hand.

I had suffered what looked like a puncture wound in the, for lack of a better term, webbed area between my thumb and my forefinger. Whatever I had landed on had been sharp enough that it nearly passed all the way through this fleshy part of my hand. I was grateful to see that the object was not embedded in my hand as pulling it out would not have been a lot of fun. I was, however, now bleeding pretty badly. I wrapped my hand as best I could with a bandana and limped out of the creek and back to my truck. My hand was covered in blood. Quite a mess. Once I cleaned it up a bit, though, it really wasn’t all that bad. The wound turned out to be small. The heavy bleeding stopped pretty quickly but continued to ooze for quite a while. Of more concern was the fact that my thumb was swelling up pretty significantly. I guess I banged it pretty hard at some point during my fall. This swelling actually began causing me more discomfort than the puncture wound at that point. I cleaned my hand as best I could and left for home.

The incident points out the importance of keeping a stocked first aid kit handy at all times. A well stocked kit will take up some space but it should be an essential part of every outdoorsman's gear. This incident took place close to home and because of that was not that big a deal. A little soap and water, anti-bacterial cream, a bandage, and some ice and I was on the road to recovery. The same injury could quickly become infected and prove to be a real problem in more remote locations minus some basic first aid treatment, however. My little adventure also calls attention to how important it is to always let someone know where you are going and when you will be returning. It isn't too much of a stretch to think I could have knocked myself out or broken a bone when I took that spill. If so, it wouldn't have been too long before help arrived as both my wife and the landowners knew of my location and the approximate length of my visit. Should you become incapacitated for any reason you could find yourself in a real jam if nobody knows your whereabouts or the estimated time of your return.

So, there you have it; my latest adventure. Pretty humbling. I suppose a little humility isn't such a bad thing. I just wish it didn't make me quite so sore.