“Bigfoot” Is Endangered Species

January 10, 2019


A federal judge on August 30, 2018, temporarily blocked the hunting of grizzly bears outside Yellowstone National Park. This was in response to the Trump administration’s removal of those animals’ endangered species protection. I said “grizzly bears” but I was also thinking of Bigfoot, and therein is a story.

For more than four decades grizzlies have been protected in the lower 48 states, but the Trump administration’s partial removal of that protection triggered a lawsuit from conservation and tribal groups. At a hearing in Missoula, Montana, U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen stated that the groups, through their attorneys, had made a case that such a hunt could cause “irreparable harm” to grizzlies in the Yellowstone area. The judge’s order was thus a temporary reprieve to some 23 of the bears that could be killed in the hunting.

The matter was resolved when Christensen found in favor of the Crow Indian and other tribes, as well as environmental groups, who argued that removal of the bear’s threatened status was an error by the Fish and Wildlife Service. The groups insisted that the agency had not considered how their action would impact other protected grizzlies in that region. Indeed, the Judge found the agency’s analysis “arbitrary and capricious.” Meanwhile, both Federal and state officials—in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana (Republican strongholds)—were considering whether to appeal (Robbins 2018).

But why did I say “Bigfoot”? As far as mainstream science is concerned, Bigfoot is only a myth. However, I have been studying Bigfoot sightings for years and have concluded that a preponderance of them are most likely misidentifications of bears—black or brown/grizzly—standing or walking upright in the alert mode, looking about and sniffing the air (Nickell 2013a). I have coined the term “Bigfoot bear” for this phenomenon.

So anywhere bears are endangered, so is “Bigfoot” (Nickell 2013b; 2014; 2015; 2017). I have an affinity for bears, having helped catch a large brown/grizzly one in the Yukon Territory in 1976 (Nickell 2018). I am opposed to killing such bears for sport.


Brulliard, Karin, and Nick Mott. 2018. Judge halts first grizzly hunts in decades two days before their start. Washington Post, August 31.

Nickell, Joe. 2013a. Bigfoot lookalikes: Tracking hairy man-beasts. Skeptical Inquirer 37:5, September/October, 12–15.

———. 2013b. Tracking Florida’s Skunk Ape. Skeptical Briefs 23:3 Fall.

———. 2014. The Yukon’s Bigfoot Bears. Skeptical Briefs 24:2, Summer.

———. 2015. Bigfoot Roundup: Some Regional Variants Identified. Skeptical Briefs 25:2, Summer.

———. 2017. Bigfoot as Big Myth: Seven Phases of Mythmaking. Skeptical Inquirer 41:5, September/October.

———. 2018. Bear-catcher’s sidekick. Online at https://www.joenickell.com/BearCatchersSidekick/Bearcatcher2.html; accessed Sept. 4, 2018.

Robbins, Jim. 2018. Hunt of Yellowstone Grizzly Bears Canceled as a Result of Judge’s Ruling. New York Times, September 25.

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