Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Find Out More About Bigfoot at Library

Bigfoot… the stories have been around for ages, surrounded by suspicion and interest. The legend of Bigfoot has made its way into popular culture, bypassing the traditional scientific community. Those who have seen Bigfoot creatures, however, are often dismissed as crazy. Is this a fair characterization?

Not according to Larry Battson of Wildlife Education Services. Battson and his wife Cheryl are wildlife specialists who have traveled across the nation educating the public about wildlife. They regularly appear on WISH-TV Channel 8 with their animals including six tigers, 17 alligators, baboons, bears and many others. Their animals have been featured on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, Animal Planet and Oprah.

While working with Jim Fowler of Wild Kingdom during a lecture in Georgia, Larry’s interest in the Bigfoot legend was piqued. Fowler was filming Russian brown bears and all the Russian guides wanted to talk about was a creature that they had seen that they thought was very similar to the North American animal known as “Sasquatch.”

“I had been interested in this since I was young, but didn’t really take it seriously,” Battson noted. “When I got some insight into the subject, my thinking changed dramatically.”

Now Battson travels the region discussing Sasquatch and researching reports of sightings. New Castle-Henry County Public Library will welcome Larry and Cheryl Battson on Thursday, June 22, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the subject of Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. Researchers use the Native American term Sasquatch to describe the large, ape-like creature that the general public refers to as Bigfoot. The term Bigfoot was coined by a California journalist and does describe the large footprints allegedly left by the Sasquatch.

The majority of Sasquatch encounters seem to be at night. While most sightings occur in the Pacific Northwest, the Bigfoot Encounters web site (to which Battson contributes) lists 13 sightings in Indiana since 1972.

Perhaps the most well-known Sasquatch sighting occurred in 1967 when Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured 24 feet of 16mm film of a walking ape-like creature in Bluff Creek, California. While many have tried to write off the footage as a hoax, it has never been proven that the film is not authentic. Larry Battson has met Bob Gimlin and will show the “Patterson footage” during the library program. Battson is currently planning a trip to Bluff Creek to film a Sasquatch documentary.

Is it really possible that a species of large mammals would go undiscovered by scientists? It is not implausible, notes Battson, since gorillas were discovered only 100 years ago and there are new species of animals and insects discovered on a regular basis.

While most of the work Larry and Cheryl do involves visiting schools to discuss animals, the Battsons have been sharing more presentations about Sasquatch recently after an Indiana library invited them to come and share their insights. Those who attend the program at New Castle-Henry County Public Library can expect a night of good entertainment. Participants are encouraged to share questions and stories. Most presentations attract at least one person who has experienced a possible Sasquatch encounter or know of someone with such an exprience.

“Either this is one of the greatest hoaxes ever known, or one of the most interesting animals ever known,” said Larry Battson. “Either way, it’s a heck of a good story.

This free program will be held in the auditorium of New Castle-Henry County Public Library, which is located on the library’s lower level. Registration is not necessary for this program.


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