Posted at: 11/26/2012 5:41 PM
Updated at: 11/27/2012 12:11 PM
By: Mark Mulholland
WHITEHALL - The stories of large hairy man-beasts lumbering through the forest go back as far as history itself.
Call it Bigfoot or Sasquatch or Yeti, the creatures have been tracked by countless.
Paul Bartholomew has been at the forefront of research related to the elusive beast.
"I believe there is a very compelling case that there is some phenomena being sighted out there by credible witnesses," said Bartholomew.
The Whitehall man has written two books on his decades of research related to Bigfoot. He has casts of the animal's large footprints, some of which were taken from his native town. He's interviewed hundreds of people who've made credible claims that they've encountered Bigfoot.
So he was a little surprised that the New York State DEC came out with this opinion recently in response to a Western New York man's request that the state protect Bigfoot as they would any endangered animal.
The DEC Wildlife Biologist wrote on behalf of the commissioner, "This mythical animal does not exist in nature or otherwise."
Bartholomew says he thinks DEC finally weighed in on the matter because they are tired of being asked about it. "I imagine they've been inundated with this question a few times and they are just tired of dealing with it."
The DEC letter also reads, "The simple truth is there is no such animal anywhere in the world."
Bartholomew said, "I also find it amusing that they say there's no evidence for any of these creatures globally," as he went on to list reported sightings and evidence collected around the world.
Reports of sightings in the Whitehall area are numerous. The community even has an ordinance on the books that prevents people from hunting Bigfoot. There's a Bigfoot liquor store, and even a wooden statue in the village park.
Townspeople say the state opinion won't change a thing.
"If the people saw it, they saw it. Just because the state says it doesn't exist, it's like them saying God doesn't exist, it's up to you whether you're going to believe it or not," said Tony Cardamone of Whitehall.