Posted by: Craig Woolheater on January 30th, 2006
Tom Atzet, a retired Forest Service ecologist from Oregon wrote an excellent article concerning the problems on getting an accurate population count of animals in the wild.
Typically, we count what we can see. Biologists use cameras, tracking, spotlighting and hunter success, but warn that "failing to detect" does not necessarily mean "absent."
Even after 30 years of study, we do not know the actual number of northern spotted owls, but it is probable our estimates are close and we can detect trends. The recent discovery of the ivory- billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct, is surprising but attests to the difficulty of counting populations.
Bigfoot? I doubt they exist, but I am not certain. Remember, "failing to detect" does not necessarily mean "absent."
I have spent much of my life in the woods and have seen fewer than half a dozen cougars. A more agile and intelligent creature living in rough terrain could evade even the CIA for years.
There are an estimated 30,000 cougars in the Western United States. Population estimates for Bigfoot are 2000-4000 in North America. An animal that is 15 times lesser in numbers than the cougar is going to be extremely difficult to find. As Mr. Atzet says, they could evade even the CIA for years.
As the English poet William Cowper said, "Absence of proof is not proof of absence."