11 August 2008

How will the government respond when BF creatures are proven to exist?

As a matter of record, this is not a theoretical question. An official press release was issued by the Federal government in 1977 which addresses such a situation when it arises.

The following is excerpted from this U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service document permanently found posted in its entirety at http://permanent.access.gpo.gov/websites/fwsgov/news.fws.gov/historic/1977/19771221.pdf.

Discussion about cryptid lake creatures is removed from the quote below as it is not germane to the focus of our interests here.

Are We Ready for “Bigfoot” or the Loch Ness Monster?

Dept. of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service news release
December 21, 1977

What if they really did find the Loch Ness monster or the legendary Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest?

Most scientists doubt that these creatures exist, but thoughts of the discovery of a new species that might be the closest living relative to man, or the possibility of finding a leftover dinosaur, excite the imagination of scientist and nonscientist alike. It also poses another question: Would such a creature be subjected to the same kind of exploitation as the giant movie ape, King Kong?

Scientists generally believe there are still many species of birds and mammals that have not been discovered because they live in remote areas and their populations are limited. After all, the gorilla and giant panda were only legends until the late 19th century when their actual existence was first confirmed by scientists. The komodo dragon, a 10-foot-long lizard, wasn’t known to science until 1912. The coelacanth, a deep-water prehistoric fish, was known only from 65 million-year-old fossils until 1938 when a specimen was caught alive off the Madagascar coast.

Just last year a Navy torpedo recovery vessel dropped a sea anchor into 500 feet of water off Hawaii. But instead of a torpedo, it hauled up a 15-foot representative of a new species of shark. The dead shark, named megamouth after its bathtub-shaped lower jaw, had an enormous, short-snouted head and 484 vestigial teeth.

To be sure, no remains of today’s legendary “monsters” have ever been found. There are no living specimens in zoos or dead ones in museums. Most certainly, many “sightings” of these creatures are exaggerated or misinterpreted reports, and some are downright hoaxes.

But finding a Loch Ness monster or Bigfoot is still a possibility, and the discovery would be one of the most important in modern history. As items of scientific and public interest they would surely command more attention than the moon rocks. Millions of curiosity seekers and thousands of zoologists and anthropologists throughout the world would be eager to “get at” the creatures to examine, protect, capture, or just look at them.

What would the United States Government do?

Keith Schreiner is Associate Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The service is the Government agency with responsibility for protecting endangered and threatened species. Schreiner says “At least, we have the laws and regulations on the books to deal with newly discovered species.”

Schreiner acknowledged, however, that a good deal of international cooperation would be needed if extremely rare species were found abroad. And finding one on U.S. soil would pose serious problems too, Service officials agree.

Undisputed proof of a Bigfoot might cause an immediate, short-term problem no law could handle. Word of its discovery would be flashed around the world within hours, Hysteria, fear, or panic might accompany the news in the area where the creature was located. The throngs of curiosity seekers, would-be captors, and others wishing to find Bigfoot would not only create a serious threat to the animal itself, but to public safety as well. Some officials doubt whether any State or Federal action short of calling out the National Guard could keep order in the area within the first few hours or days of the creature’s discovery. This could be essential until a team of scientists could do the necessary things to ensure the creature’s survival.

The key law in preservation of a species is the Endangered Species Act, which pledges the United States to conserve species of plants and animals facing extinction. This broad, complex law protects endangered species from killing, harassment, and other forms of exploitation. The Act prohibits the import and export of, and interstate commerce in, endangered species. American citizens cannot engage in commercial traffic in endangered species between nations, even when the United States is not involved. Scientists wishing to study endangered species are required to have a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

But before a creature can receive protection under the Endangered Species Act, a number of actions normally must occur which involve recommendations from the public, scientists, and State and foreign governments where the species exists.

The first of these would he the species’ formal description and naming in a recognized scientific publication. In addition, if it were a U.S. species, the Governor of the State where it was found would be contacted, as would the officials of foreign governments if it were found outside the United States. Only after much information was collected could the Service make a formal determination as to whether the species should be afforded endangered or threatened status...

Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, is purported to be an 8-foot, 900-pound humanoid that roams the forest and wilderness areas of the Pacific Northwest. One “eyewitness” described an obviously female Sasquatch as a “tall, long-legged, gorilla-like animal covered with dark hair and endowed with a pendulous pair of breasts.” It, too, has been described in publications and given a scientific name. In fact, so many people were stalking Bigfoot with high-powered rifles and cameras that Skamania County, Washington, is prepared to impose a fine of $10,000 and a 5-year jail term on anyone who kills a Bigfoot. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers even lists Bigfoot as one of the native species in its Environmental Atlas for Washington. This year the Florida and Oregon legislatures also considered bills protecting “Bigfoot” type creatures. A Bureau of Indian Affairs policeman has 18-inch plaster cast footprints of the “McLaughlin monster,” a Bigfoot-type creature he saw last month in South Dakota.

Under U.S. Law, the Secretary of the Interior is empowered to list as threatened or endangered a species for 120 days on an emergency basis. For endangered species in the United States, the Secretary can also designate habitat that is critical to their survival. No Federal agency could then authorize, fund, or carry out any activities which would adversely modify that habitat.

So long-term Federal protection of Nessie or Bigfoot would basically be a matter of following the same regulatory mechanisms already used in protecting whooping cranes and tigers.

“Under normal situations,” Schreiner said, “we must know a great deal about a species before we list it. How big is the population? Does it occur anywhere else? Is the population in danger of decline? Is its habitat secure? Is the species being exploited? What is its reproductive rate? Obviously, if a Bigfoot really were found we could use emergency provisions of the Act to protect it immediately..."

03 August 2008

Finding the right role for skepticism

Discussions on many different issues concerning BF creatures can be broken down along "us versus them" lines with skeptics on one side and believers on the other. This is the case whether the question is the fact that BF creatures exist in the first place or on questions such as whether they spend part of their lives underground or communicate using a spoken language. All of us believe some facts up to a certain point and are skeptical of facts beyond that.

What then is the appropriate role for skepticism?

We all have beliefs and convictions. Most but not all beliefs and convictions are founded on defensible and documented facts. Skepticism is that measure of doubt which provides the basis on which we change our minds as our beliefs and convictions move closer to truth.

Something we consider to be a belief or conviction that leaves no wiggle room for the process of skepticism at work becomes a dead end unto itself-- such a thing is best described as superstition.

My approach to facts then is to be skeptical. Skepticism is the method by which I learn. All facts must be tested and verified from a position of doubt to separate the false from the true.

However, some folks regard skepticism itself as being the ultimate goal. They regard the role of skepticism as being the end instead of the means. They stake out a certain position and by the virtue of being a skeptic on that position will reject consideration of any facts otherwise. Such a self-defined skeptic remains immutable, unteachable and suppresses the consideration of ideas, observations or information which lead toward truth.

When it comes to considering, accepting and understanding facts about BF creatures, each of us are at one stage or another along the continuum of working theories which form the basis for what we believe.

At the far end of this "scale of belief" is apathy. Most everyone begins at this point in which they don't necessarily care whether BF creature exist.

The next stage along this continuum is for those who actively deny or reject the notion that BF creatures exist. My personal opinion is that I regard this as being one step closer to moving in the direction of truth.

Next would come the realization that BF creatures might exist but at some far away location or may have existed at some distant time in the past.

The tipping point occurs when one confronts facts which demonstrate that BF creatures exist here and now. Until we recover "habeas corpus" proof (that is, a body for study), these facts are presently limited to all manners of other physical evidence such as sightings, recordings (visual and audio), hair, scat, tracks and other signs.

The "scale of belief" then moves on to theories concerning the nature and abilities of such creatures. What do they eat? Where do they live? How do they communicate with each other? What is their social structure? A critical distinction that has yet to be resolved is whether BF creatures represent an animal species or something human which lives like an animal.

Divisions now occur among those who accept the existence of BF creatures along the lines of the answers to such questions. I recommend that the community of BF investigators agrees to disagree on the nuances of each other's working theories for the time being. Such speculation will only be answered by field surveillance of wild and free creatures in their habitat. Our common and primary goal should be working in unity for the enforcement of laws which prohibit the harassment, hunting, captivity or killing of BF creatures. Failing that, the future of wild and free creatures to be observed for generations to come would be a moot point.

All of us must balance our beliefs with our doubts (skepticism) as we grow in learning and understanding the truth concerning BF creatures.
"Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."
Thomas Henry Huxley