Credit Steve Newman (By way of Loren Coleman)

17 May 1995

Scientists disapprove of 'Bigfoot' reward

BEIJING, May 17 (UPI) -- Scientists searching central China's forests for a legendary being said they oppose any offer of a reward for the capture of a half-human and half-ape creature known as "Bigfoot," the official Xinhua news agency reported Wednesday. The 30-member research team expressed concerns that people "driven by greed," may harm wildlife and the natural environment in the Shennongjia Nature Researve in Hubei province, the site of the Bigfoot probe. The scientists left Beijing early this month and arrived at Shiyan, the nearest city to the reserve, May 9.

Armed with night-scopes, satellite orientation equipment and infra-red detectors, they are scouring the forests and peaks reaching more than 10,230 feet (3,100 m) high. Published reports have said anyone who captures or kills a Bigfoot will receive a reward, although reserve officials and the Shiyan city government denied making such an offer.

During the past 70 years, hundreds of people have claimed to see the creature, with most describing a 6-foot-6-inch (2-meter) being walking upright, covered in long red hair and leaving 16-inch-long (40 cm) footprints. Obtaining evidence that proves or disproves the existence of Bigfoot is of great importance, Wang Fangchen, head of the team, told Xinhua. "If Bigfoot is found, it will be given top protection," he vowed.

Du Yonglin, director of a research society in Beijing focusing on the mystery, said the creature was reportedly seen 21 times between 1924 and 1949, 18 times between 1950 and 1965, 33 times between 1966 and 1975, 22 times between 1976 and 1981 and 20 times between 1983 and 1993, according to the organization's statistics. "There were more than 50 times when between two and 30 persons saw Bigfoot at the same time," Du said. Those reporting sightings included scientists, technicians, cadres, workers, peasants, teachers and students, he said. The current search is the largest ever organized by the Committee for Research on Strange and Rare Creatures of China's Scientific Exploration Association, under the auspices of the China Association for Science and Technology. Some researchers believe Bigfoot may be an unknown priimate, possibly the offspring of a branch of anthropoid ape.