November 6, 2012
Bigfoot Hunt Is On By Land And By Air
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Can you think of any reason you would head out into the remote forests of America in search of the legendary Bigfoot? Maybe you can think of 10 million reasons.
$10 million dollars is the bounty Spike TV is offering for irrefutable proof of the beast's existence. According to the Huffington Post, this is the largest cash prize in television history, and Spike TV is pairing the money with its new reality show, "10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty."
Spike has paired up with Lloyd's of London to put teams of explorers on the track of the elusive sasquatch — a tall, hairy, human-like animal that supposedly lives in the wilderness of North America. It is most commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest.
"If this series idea had come in without that Lloyd's of London mark attached to it, I don't think we would have taken it seriously, but that's no small chunk of change," said Tim Duffy, Spike TV's senior vice president of original series.
"What it signified to us was an opportunity to attract the best scientists, zoologists, trackers and Bigfoot hunters in the world in an attempt to prove or disprove its existence," continued Duffy.
The new show is in pre-production, with teams being assembled to travel to various locations in the U.S. The 10, hour-long episodes will show the contestants applying different methods to search for their quarry. Spike TV has scheduled the launch of the show in fall 2013. In a strange twist, the show's producers and executives are hoping the show only lasts one season.
"Yes, absolutely! No one has ever done anything like this before, and that's what I love about this show," Duffy said. "We're going to do this right, not fast, and we're not going to do it purely for entertainment purposes."
Because state laws vary, for example it is perfectly legal to shoot the Bigfoot in Texas, the question of "dead or alive" hasn't been settled yet.
"We haven't gotten to that point yet with Lloyd's of London. Because they are the guarantors of this prize, they have a huge say in it. We're still in the process of figuring out what the requirements will ultimately be for the retrieval of the bounty by whoever is successful bringing Bigfoot in," said Duffy.
Depicting a reportedly 7 foot tall hairy animal walking along a creek, the most controversial bit of evidence to date is a film from 1967 shot in Bluff Creek, California. Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin filmed the creature walking along the creek, glancing back at the men before heading off into the woods. Many believe that this film was a hoax, just a man in a costume, but that has never been proven conclusively.
Duffy says that the biggest competitive factor between his show and Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" — about to enter its third season — may well come down to the money being offered.
"A lot of television networks and shows have exploited the possibility of the existence of Bigfoot," Duffy said. "Of course, that's part of what we're doing with this show, but we want someone to be successful in season one -- that's the goal of our show. Nobody wants to watch another series of 10 or 13 episodes of television where nothing happens."
Spike TV and the Animal Planet are not the only ones looking for Bigfoot. The UK's Guardian newspaper reports that a scientist from Idaho State University, Jeffrey Meldrum, is shrugging off the skepticism of his fellow scholars with a new plan to search from the skies.
Meldrum, an anatomy and anthropology professor, plans to use a blimp over the mountains of the western U.S. Meldrum has been ridiculed by his peers for his past research into the existence of Bigfoot, a being whose existence is widely disputed by mainstream science.
Meldrum is trying to raise over $300,000 in private donations to fund the building of a remote-control dirigible and equip it with a thermal-imaging camera in hopes of catching a glimpse of the sasquatch. He believes that this project represents a giant leap forward in the quest for Bigfoot, which he think evolved from a giant ape that once inhabited Asia and crossed into North America over the Bering land bridge.
"The challenge with any animal that is rare, solitary, nocturnal and far-ranging in habitat is to find them and observe them in the wild; this technology provides for that," he told Reuters.
One of the problems facing Meldrum is the overwhelming lack of scientific evidence, and the great deal of elaborate hoaxes that have been perpetrated. Most scholars discount the existence of Bigfoot because no fossils or other physical evidence has been unearthed to suggest the largest primate ever know migrated to the Americas. The fact that no Bigfoot has ever been captured or killed supports this skepticism.
"There is no Bigfoot," said University of Iowa anthropologist Russell Ciochon.
William Barnes devised the blimp project, called the Falcon Project. Barnes supposedly encountered Bigfoot in Northern California in 1977. Barnes maintains that he saw a "well-manicured" hairy beast approach his tent before walking away along a rocky ledge.
Barnes and Meldrum hope that with proper funding, the Falcon Project will launch next spring, with a several months long expedition across the Pacific Northwest and northern California and Utah. The blimp would send back evidence to teams on the ground, trying to "make contact."
Financial support has been slow in coming; so far, Meldrum has failed to raise even a single dollar. He has said that he's vying with two separate cable channels for the rights to produce a weekly TV show following the Falcon Project from beginning to end.