Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 4th, 2012
Paul Souders/Animal Planet
From left, Cliff Barackman, James Fay, Ranae Holland and Matt Moneymaker in a scene from “Finding Bigfoot.”
By NEIL GENZLINGER
Published: December 30, 2011
These marauding Bigfoots must be stopped.
It was bad enough to see them terrorizing Florida, Oregon, Washington State, Alaska and the other places visited in Season 1 by the sasquatch hunters of “Finding Bigfoot,” a documentary series on Animal Planet. But the opening episode of Season 2 on Sunday night finds the investigators just a few hairy strides from New York City. How would you like to be jostling for a seat on the subway with a cranky, possibly fictitious 10-foot biped who hasn’t had his morning coffee yet?
The show follows Matt Moneymaker, president of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, and three sidekicks — Cliff Barackman, Ranae Holland and James Fay — as they investigate Bigfoot sightings with fancy-looking audio equipment and those cameras that record grainy, ghostly images in the dark. In Sunday’s episode they travel to the Catskills to try to show that footage of something climbing in a tree, captured accidentally 15 years ago, is proof of a Bigfoot infestation in the area.
The film, made during a music festival and generally known as the New York Baby Footage, comes from a man named Douglas Pridgen, who was shooting home movies with friends around a campfire. He tells the “Finding Bigfoot” crew that he did not notice the beast lurking in a tree in the background until a few years later, when he was transferring the footage to another format.
The film has been on the Internet for years and has drawn its share of skeptics. Some think the animal is just someone’s pet monkey. That the film was shot during a music festival has also been occasion for comment.
“Hippies are responsible for a lot of big foot sightings because of their hair and scent,” someone has posted under one YouTube version of the footage.
Mr. Moneymaker and his team go to the spot where the film was made, in Ulster County, and, by having Mr. Barackman clamber up a tree, prove conclusively that the thing in the footage looks nothing like a tree-climbing male adult human. At least one team member, though, had already made his mind up. “We’re clearly looking at a baby sasquatch in this footage,” Mr. Fay announced earlier in the show, his credibility only slightly diminished by the fact that his nickname is Bobo.
The crew also convenes a town meeting across the Hudson in Pawling, N.Y., in Dutchess County, where residents, Mr. Barackman explains, “are exactly the kind of people who might be encountering sasquatches every once in a while on their own property.”
The investigators invite those who attend to relate their sightings of Bigfoot or Bigfoot tracks, and quite a few do. By plotting the locations of these sightings, the investigators determine that the beasts seem to hang out in the vicinity of the Appalachian Trail.
“We think the Bigfoots use that as their highway,” Mr. Moneymaker says.
The team sets up nighttime surveillance in the woods in hopes of meeting some Bigfoots, bellowing an occasional sasquatch call — a cross between a police siren and an ill baby — through the hills to try to get the creatures interested in a rendezvous. As is usual for this absurd but delightfully addictive show, Mr. Moneymaker’s crew does not capture a Bigfoot, either on film or in the flesh. But the investigators nonetheless amass almost irrefutable evidence that the Catskills and Dutchess County are crawling with the critters: ¶When Mr. Pridgen appears on camera, the identifying label under his name says, “New York Bigfoot Witness.” Same thing for a couple of Pawling residents who describe sightings. Would Animal Planet, which has brought us rigorously scientific shows like “Hillbilly Handfishin’ ” and “Rat Busters NYC,” allow someone to be called a “Bigfoot Witness” on TV if he had not witnessed a Bigfoot? Seems unlikely.
Though the team does not find any Bigfoots, it does find a deer, and deer, as someone points out, are prime sasquatch food.
When the crew goes into the woods at night, it records assorted noises. And what possible explanation could there be for noises in a nighttime forest other than Bigfoots?
It seems clear, then, that these things are massing for an invasion of New York City. We need to act now, and decisively.
As with a military campaign, we need to sever their communication and supply route, i.e., the Appalachian Trail. Put up one of those police sawhorse barricades, or perhaps a sternly worded sign: “Absolutely no Bigfoots allowed.”
Clear cutting the Catskills would also seem advisable. At least then we’d be able to see the danged things. Any battlefield strategist knows that the key to dealing with invisible enemies is to flush them into the open.