Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Texas Scientist Says Bigfoot is Real. Let the Hunt Begin?

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

A Texas scientist dubiously claims she's sequenced Bigfoot's DNA. So is it legal to kill him/it now?

Update, 2/14/13: The second week of February, Ketchum released her paper claiming to have sequenced Sasquatch DNA. It was published in a ‘scientific journal’ created only a week earlier. You can read more over at the Houston Chronicle.

You may have read some dubious new claims by a Texas “scientist” that Bigfoot is real. Nacogdoches veterinarian Melba Ketchum (who claims to also be a a scientist in “Forensics and Hominid Research” on her Twitter profile) announced this week that her company, DNA Diagnostics, has successfully sequenced the DNA of not just one, but several Bigfoots. (Or is that Bigfeet?)

Using DNA apparently found from hair, blood and tissue samples, Ketchum says she’s sequenced Bigfoot. Those samples may have come from cryptid enthusiast Robin Lynne, who claims to have several Sasquatch roaming the land around her Michigan property. She says … wait for it … she’s enticed them there with blueberry bagels.

The news is even being covered by major outlets like CNN, FOX and TIME. (For a robust, skeptical take on the new claims, check out Eric Berger’s solid debunking in the Houston Chronicle.)

But if Bigfoot were indeed real, and you were out hunting in Texas, it may surprise you to know that you have some options once you encounter him/her/it.

Those options came to light when a Bigfoot believer from Oregon earlier this year approached the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which regulates hunting in the state, with a question: Is it legal to kill Bigfoot in Texas?

John Lloyd Scharf had queried Parks and Wildlife because he was worried that if Bigfoot was discovered in the Lone Star state, some enterprising hunter would off him.

“If a species is unlisted and an unknown new species, is there an open season and blank permit to take that species?” Scharf asked the department. “Several groups of individuals claim they have talked to game officials in Texas about this issue. They have framed it within the supposed existence of the “Bigfoot.” I have said no wildlife may be taken without the permission of the people of Texas.”

The Oregon man cited Chapter 61 of the Parks and Wildlife code, which says that “taking wildlife resources” deemed game animals is prohibited.

Scharf put the question bluntly: “So, my question, generally, is whether they are allowed to kill and take wildlife that may be native to Texas without a season or a permit?” he asked in his letter to the department.

“If Bigfoot did exist, and wasn’t human, then it would [be legal]. Bigfoot would be a non-protected wild animal,” L. David Sinclair with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told us earlier this year. “It’s right out of the law book,” Sinclair says. (But it would be illegal to eat a dove that flew into your house and died, as one Central Texas food blogger discovered this fall.)

Sinclair wrote a lengthy reply to Scharf, citing Texas code, explaining why it would be legal to kill the Cryptid. In short, it’s because Bigfoot isn’t from around here. Sinclair wrote:

If the Commission does not specifically list an indigenous, nongame species, then the species is considered non-protected nongame wildlife, e.g., coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, cotton-tailed rabbit, etc.  A non-protected nongame animal may be hunted on private property with landowner consent by any means, at any time and there is no bag limit or possession limit.

An exotic animal is an animal that is non-indigenous to Texas. Unless the exotic is an endangered species then exotics may be hunted on private property with landowner consent.  A hunting license is required. This does not include the dangerous wild animals that have been held in captivity and released for the purpose of hunting, which is commonly referred to as a “canned hunt”.

Scharf wasn’t satisfied with those answers, and says Parks and Wildlife failed to respond adequately to his questions.

Even though Bigfoot is believed to mostly hang out in the Northwest, there are devoted Bigfoot searchers in Texas as well.

So while it may be legal to kill him/her/it in Texas (even with a silencer), there’s still the unresolved question of whether or not Bigfoot is even real.

Don’t hold your breath, Eric Berger writes in the Houston Chronicle:

At this point I should probably remind readers that there’s not at present a shred of credible scientific evidence that a Bigfoot, or Bigfeet, exist in North America, or anywhere in the world. These are, in fact, mythical creatures. What about the paper, you say? Well, almost anything is possible. This paper, if it is ever accepted by a reputable journal, will be closely analyzed. Almost certainly it will be found to be false. At this point it is nothing more than a long line of “claims” about the existence of Bigfoot.

It is not incumbent upon rational people to disprove the existence of Bigfoot. It is incumbent upon those making extraordinary claims to back them up with real evidence. I would be thrilled if we discovered another ape-like species in North America that walks around in the woods but is never photographed clearly, despite the ubiquity of cameras in the modern world.

In human history, the real-life discovery of cryptids is quite rare. Check out this lengthy list from Wikipedia: of some hundreds of cryptids allegedly spotted over human history, few have been deemed to be real.


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