It was dusk, between 6:30 and 7 p.m., on March 27, 2017, to be exact. Ackley and her 11- and 14-year-old daughters were hiking the winding trail when Ackley’s daughters, several yards ahead, froze in their tracks, gazing wide-eyed at a large, shadowy figure braced in a pine tree. Ackley ran to her daughters to see what they were staring at.
“I ran into a Sasquatch – a Bigfoot. We were face to face,” said Ackley, 46. “He was 30 feet up in the tree.”
She said the creature was barrel-chested, with a head three times the size of a human’s, and appeared to weigh about 800 pounds.
“He looked like a neanderthal man with hair all over him. He had solid black eyes. He had no expression on his face at all. He did not show his teeth. He just stared at the three of us,” said Ackley. She said she made a howling “whoop” sound, and the creature in the tree reacted by rocking back and forth, shaking branches. That’s when Ackley told her daughters to turn and slowly walk away. She said her youngest daughter, who shot video of the alleged encounter on her phone, later told her mother she saw two other similar creatures on the ground, running away upon their approach.
After being told by insistent forest rangers they had seen a bear, and believing she would never be taken seriously by anyone in an official capacity, Ackley, a Bigfoot enthusiast and researcher of more than 20 years…sued the state in San Bernardino Superior Court on January 18, 2018.
The lawsuit alleges the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Natural Resources Agency have been derelict in their duty by not acknowledging the existence of the Sasquatch species, despite a mountain of documented and scientific evidence. It has had a chilling effect on the study of the Sasquatch, considered illegitimate and relegated to the category of “paranormal research.” It has damaged Ackley’s “livelihood, public image and credibility,” as well as others dedicated to the study of the bipedal hominid, according to the lawsuit.
Ackley’s lawyer, Bobby Garcia, did not respond to telephone calls seeking comment.
Ackley’s biggest concern is that the government, by not acknowledging Bigfoot’s existence, could be endangering the public.
“People have to be warned about these things. They are big,” Ackley said. “We’re totally vulnerable to these things.”
Fish and Wildlife spokesman Andrew Hughan declined to comment, citing the lawsuit. He did say that Bigfoot is not a recognized species by his agency.
Lisa Lien-Mager, spokeswoman for the state Natural Resources Agency, also declined to comment due to the ongoing litigation.
“They’re on our property. They knock on our walls. They look through our windows,” Claudia Ackley said. “It’s more and more and more.”
Ackley said her first encounter with a Sasquatch was in Greenwater, Washington in 2014, during an outing with fellow Bigfoot enthusiasts. She said she also believed she encountered one in Yosemite National Park on a camping trip in 1997, but she cannot be sure.
In the 1997 incident, Ackley said she and a couple of her roommates were camping when they heard a loud growl outside their tent. When Ackley peeked out, she said she saw something large, hairy and bipedal walking into the woods. From then on, she committed herself to the study of the Sasquatch, which has fueled her passion for more than 20 years.
“I don’t know if it was a Sasquatch, but that night changed everything for me,” said Ackley. “I always wondered what it was that walked into the woods.”
Now, Claudia Ackley is gone, and the encounters she had have joined the files of Hominology.