Submitted by Holly Chavez
Does Bigfoot exist?
It’s a question our readers and writers find highly intriguing, which is why we’re very excited to have the opportunity to discuss this cryptid with someone who knows it best: R. Monteith.
As a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization’s (BFRO) Florida chapter, Monteith participated in numerous expeditions. Personally, she investigates sightings reported in North America.
Curious about who Monteith is and what attracted her to this type of work, we first wanted to know where her interest in bigfoot originated. Monteith told us that “I grew up in Plantation, FL, [a] city just west of Fort Lauderdale. When I was around 6 or 7 in the early 70s, there were a huge number of skunk ape reports in the area. It lasted for a few years, and then suddenly stopped. During that time, I remember my father reading the stories in the paper, and talking about reports near our home. Plantation was a very small town then and on the edge of the Everglades. I can remember being very interested, yet scared to death.”
Cryptid enthusiasts are well aware of the “skunk ape,” one of the many geographical names associated with bigfoot. Monteith went on to explain her uncle, a police officer, responded to the scene of a skunk ape sighting. He and his partner described observing “something larger than a man, yet hairy in the light of the window.” Several other city officials, including another police officer and the county animal tracker, similarly experienced unexplainable encounters with large animals.
Becoming a Bigfoot Researcher
Growing up in an area where many bigfoot sightings came from credible witnesses gave Monteith the unshakeable belief in the cryptid’s existence. It’s not surprising these childhood experiences, combined with her interest in the topic, culminated into bigfoot research.
Monteith’s involvement with the BFRO would probably have never happened, though, had she not signed up for an expedition in 2009. At the time, she thought the outing was something she could share with her teenaged sons, but they bailed. Monteith, however, stayed and the rest is history.
A Face-to-Face Encounter
Monteith’s research has turned up a lot of compelling evidence, including footprints and recordings of bigfoot yelling. Perhaps her most intriguing encounter, though, happened during an expedition with other BFRO members.
According to Monteith, “several of us were able to view a large head and shoulders tree-peeking through a thermal. It moved back and forth and even wrapped an arm around the trunk. Once it realized it was being viewed, it ducked behind the tree. We waited for it to appear again, when it didn’t we walked toward it and discovered nothing behind the tree. The next morning we returned to the tree and tried to reenact what we had seen. It was more than 2 feet taller that my 5’7” frame and far wider. My arm didn’t even wrap ¼ around the trunk of that tree. We also discovered the grasses behind the tree, where it had been standing, were completely flattened and there was a partial 12’ + footprint too.”
The team went on to find a nearby creek bed but didn’t have any other personal encounters with the creature until a few nights later. Monteith said “we were walking along another creek, and very close to us was a yell that reminded me of a loud, guttural military fighter’s yell. It was so loud; it was as if my insides could feel the percussion from it. My colleagues and I stopped walking, and we nervously laughed. We unanimously realized the yell was telling us we weren’t welcome to continue down the creek.
It was an “Okay; they don’t want us down there,” moment.”
Personally, Monteith has encountered multiple bigfoot. Without a shadow of a doubt, she knows these creatures are real. Unfortunately, some of the sightings reported to the BFRO result from either misidentification or attempts to fake an encounter. Monteith is responsible for deciding which sightings should be followed up on and determining whether someone’s a credible witness. And, while the reporter may honestly believe they’ve spotted a cryptid, Monteith helps figure out if they’ve seen a bigfoot or just mistaken another animal for it. Based on her experience, Monteith indicated misidentification is a lot more common than intentionally false reports.
There’s a lot that goes into the process of vetting a credible witness. Monteith said there are “many ways to determine honesty and credibility and [we] use the same techniques law enforcement use.” She further elaborated that “we’re pretty good with determining photoshopped pictures too. If a witness won’t send us the original photo, that’s a red flag. We have audio software as well that can determine by decibel, pitch, etc. if it’s human, or identify what animal is making it. And we can tell if the recording has been tampered with or added to as well. We can debunk a lot.” Witnesses found to be clearly lying or inconsistent with their information are not considered credible.
Monteith told us she’s dealt with some extremely odd sightings, beyond the realm of the believable. According to Monteith, “’I saw a UFO beam a bigfoot up,’ or ‘I saw a bigfoot walking with a panther’ won’t get any of our attention. I’m not sure I can say I ever fully investigated an “odd” one. If I call a witness and the story just doesn’t jive, I politely end the call and the investigation.”
Don’t let the BFRO vetting process discourage you from reporting if you’re uncertain you’ve spotted bigfoot. It makes sense to report your encounter so the BFRO can catalog the event and determine if it was a misidentification or the real deal. However, don’t waste your time with a knowingly fraudulent report because the BRFO team will likely sniff out the truth.
It’s worth mentioning that not all encounters will warrant the BFRO sending out a warm body to investigate. For example, sightings reported long after the fact typically don’t trigger boots on the ground. Minimal incidents such as hearing a knocking sound will also not warrant an investigation, but they will be logged just in case a pattern begins to emerge in a particular area.
As a rule of thumb, recent sightings that appear credible are typically investigated by a member or the BFRO and as quickly as possible.
Expeditions on the Road
Although Monteith works with the Florida BFRO chapter, she’s done expeditions in other areas. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a prime example. While the team was there, they found bigfoot tracks and recorded sounds in the distance. One team member also reported hearing a possible bigfoot during the night. He told Monteith “Whatever it was, was walking around where your tents had been.” She elaborated that “it was too dark for him to see what it was, and he hoped it would make his way over towards him, but it never did. He was at a loss as to what it was, but knew it wasn’t a four-footed animal.”
Florida’s Bigfoot Population
It’s impossible to know, as Monteith told us, for certain how many bigfoot live in Florida. However, there’s a formula the BFRO uses to estimate the total number of these cryptids in any given area. Using this method, Monteith was able to assess Florida’s bigfoot population “would be at least 200, minimum, but probably fewer than 500 in the state of Florida.”
In other words, bigfoot are quite prevalent in the Sunshine State so amateur researchers would do well to place it top on their exploration list.
Should We Be Afraid of Bigfoot?
There have been several terrifying reports of bigfoot chasing humans, and in some cases inflicting harm, so we asked Monteith whether or not she’s found any evidence indicating a naturally aggressive disposition toward us.
“I don’t think they are aggressive,” Monteith said, “but I think like any other animal they can show intimidating behavior when protecting their families.
“I think bigfoot have the ability, just like anything else, to go either way, but most are not aggressive. Most of our reports consist of them trying to get away from us! We get reports of bigfoot throwing things at people – and the objects never seem to hit them – just land near them, and sometimes we hear about a screaming mock charge that stops a few feet away. That seems to be the only aggressive type interaction they have with people, and it seems they do this when they want you to vacate the area. And it works! People generally get so scared; they get out of there as fast as they can.”
Monteith further clarified there are no credible reports of any bigfoot hurting or physically attacking a human. She believes the creatures only act in an aggressive manner to protect themselves, having no intention of hurting people who respect their boundaries.
Clearing Up Common Misconceptions
Bringing our fascinating interview with Monteith to a close, we asked the seasoned bigfoot researcher to break some of the biggest misconceptions about these elusive creatures.
Monteith indicated many people erroneously believe there’s only one type of bigfoot in the world or that they’re all the same size and color. She went on to explain the creatures come in “different shades of black, brown, tan, auburn, gray and even a mix of these colors. I saw an auburn colored one myself. And the colors are not limited to certain areas.”
Regarding their size, Monteith said, “Bigfoot are born and grow like other mammals. They start off small – so it’s very possible to see a juvenile which can be three to four feet tall or an adult. They all aren’t nine feet tall. Most seem to be around the six to seven-foot range.”
Monteith also shed important light on the level of intelligence these creatures possess.
“Although I don’t see a sasquatch being logical enough to do an algebraic equation, I think they have a strong spatial intelligence and a naturalistic intelligence that surpasses ours. They know to avoid cameras, and lights. They cover their tracks, and take measures to avoid detection. They can hear us, see us, and smell us way before we are ever aware of them. Never underestimate their intelligence or assume they will act like other animals in the woods. They have survived in small numbers without formal detection for thousands of years. They will always outsmart you in the woods because they have evolved to [do so],” Monteith explained.
Natural adaption helps to explain why it can be so difficult to spot them in the wild, let alone snapping photographic evidence. It’s also important to note the BRFO believes in cataloging evidence without trying to harm a bigfoot during their search.
“We do not believe that a bigfoot needs to be killed in order for identification of the species,” Monteith said. “It is our hope that the evidence we collect will allow this. We are no-kill.”
Find the BRFO online at:
“Florida Skunk Ape by Sybilla Irwin 2016” was formatted to fit this page and posted with permission from Sybilla Irwin, www.sybillairwin.com