Witness denies labeling large animal Bigfoot
West Bend, Wisconsin – A 39-year-old Menasha man has found himself in the middle of Washington County “wildman of the wilderness” fever. Steven Krueger doesn’t know where all this Bigfoot talk came from, but he will not be sorry to see it stop.
“I hope it just goes away. It’s starting to get irritating,” Krueger said. “I never once said it was a Bigfoot or yeti.”
The sheriff’s department report bears that out, only mentioning a creature “approximately 7 feet tall, very black, and very wide.”
After some kind of creature startled Krueger early Thursday morning while he was working at his Department of Natural Resources-contracted job, he deliberated reporting it because he knew there would be skeptics.
Krueger finally decided he should alert the sheriff’s department in case it was a bear or other dangerous animal. Krueger said he used to hunt black bears, which is what this animal looked like.
Except for the ears.
“They were sort of pointy – not exactly like a wolf, but definitely not rounded like a black bear,” Krueger said.
The DNR contracts and specially licenses Krueger to remove deer carcasses in Washington, Ozaukee, Fond du Lac, Brown, northern Manitowoc and northern Waupaca counties.
“Washington County faxes me every morning and gives me a complete list and exact location of where the deer are, and I make a run,” Krueger told the Daily News in May.
At around 1 a.m. Thursday morning, he stopped to pick up a small doe on Highway 167, about a third of a mile east of Station Way Road in the town of Erin. He put the deer in the bed of the truck and sat in the cab, filling out the necessary paperwork. He left the gate down, because he still had to tag the deer.
Krueger felt the truck rock and thought it was the wind, but when it rocked again he checked his mirror to see – in the light of his truck-mounted spotlight – an animal reaching for the doe with its front paws. He said he was startled, so he slammed the truck into drive and peeled off.
The deer was dragged – or fell – off the truck, along with an all-terrain vehicle ramp. Krueger couldn’t be sure exactly what he saw.
“A black Lab(rador retriever) could’ve jumped in the back of the bed and it would’ve startled me because I wasn’t expecting it,” Krueger said.
Krueger said Milwaukee television stations had contacted him trying to push the Bigfoot angle. He said kept the discussion away from that direction but they ran the story anyway. He’s asked for a correction.
The attention had the area abuzz with the idea of a southeastern Wisconsin sasquatch.
“That’s the word we were bombarded with,” said Bill Mitchell, the county’s DNR conservation warden. “We were working this morning and everywhere we went people wanted to know about it.”
With hunting season coming up, folks joked with Mitchell about licensing: Would it require a big game or a small game license, or would an archery license work?
About 60 people from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization hit the trail this summer for two three-day weekend expeditions in Wisconsin’s northern Price County looking for yetis. Around the same time, Bigfoot footage was posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube, claiming to have been shot on the Fourth of July near St. Croix Falls in Polk County.
A total of 34 Wisconsin sightings have been reported to the BFRO Web site, ranking it smack in the middle of the lower 48 United States, but not a single report has come out of Washington County or any in southeastern Wisconsin.
Mitchell said although rare, there was history of timber wolf black bear and large coyote sightings in the area and as far south as Milwaukee County, which could account for what Krueger saw. But, then again
“My wife just pointed out Halloween Express just sold off all their costumes at clearance prices,” Mitchell said.
Krueger said it was inconceivable the creature was a prankster. He didn’t see a single other vehicle or person as he drove down Highway K to calm himself, or when he went back briefly to search for his ATV ramp.
By Friday afternoon, someone sent the Sasquatch story to Jeffrey Meldrum, a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University. As one of the world’s foremost authorities on Bigfoot, he’s familiar with the sensation a sighting can stir.
“I’ve been out with people and every puddle of water that has a remote shape of a humanoid footprint they go, ‘Ah, look at that! Could that be a Bigfoot print?’” Meldrum said.
Last week, the Associate Press ran a story about colleagues who shun Meldrum for practicing quack science. Ironically, Meldrum’s new book, endorsed by world-famous primatologist Jane Goodall, is “Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science.”
“From my perspective, I’m not dealing with just the accumulation of those stories and reports,” Meldrum said. “As a physical anthropologist I constrain myself to a consideration of a data that lends itself to scientific analysis.”
Many academics and laypersons alike won’t denounce the legend, but also won’t acknowledge evidence until there is a smoking gun – or a sasquatch skeleton, he said. Meldrum said he takes the scientific route.
“I’ll see a feature in a print which looks to me like a midtarsal pressure ridge, which makes it very different and much more flexible than a human’s foot,” Meldrum said. “So let’s do some experiments.”
His tests range from examining other apes’ prints, to plotting sightings against environmental habitat using geographic information systems, to studying bio-acoustics of animal vocalizations. Personal beliefs aside, he bases his findings on the data, which he feels supports the idea of a species behind the legend.
Krueger said if Bigfoot did exist, it would probably live in a more remote environment like the Rockies or the Pacific Northwest, but “anything’s possible.”
“I’m not sure how I would react personally if I ever saw one,” Meldrum said. “I’ve had people tell me it’s a life-changing possibility because they’ve been told their whole lives that this thing could not possibly exist and now, boom! Large as life, it’s there.”
West Bend Daily News
November 10, 2006
“Bigfoot or big misunderstanding?” by John Buchel