Are sasquatches merely misidentified bears?

Many wildlife biologists and mammalogists have suggested that that eyewitnesses who had claimed to have seen a sasquatch may actually have been looking at a bear on its hind legs and misidentifying it.

The problem with this explanation occurs when experienced outdoors workers such as forestry workers, hunters, trappers, prospectors and commercial fishermen—experience outdoor people who know bears—observe a sasquatch. People like them, who may have seen dozens or even hundreds of bears know that, whatever they observed, it was not a bear. And, on this subject they may be better eyewitnesses than doctors, lawyers, and even law enforcement officers.

Although the resemblance of an upright bear to a sasquatch is only superficial, the desire of wildlife biologists to explain sasquatch reports as those of misidentified bears is understandable. North American mammal field guides do not yet include the sasquatch as North American mammal. The authority of these published mammal field guides is a very powerful force in shaping the opinion that, if the sasquatch were indeed an “extant” (or real) animal. it would have been included by now.

One of the major contributions of my books (in my opinion) is the inclusion of the field guide-type illustration of a sasquatch by Wendy Dyck. She drew a generic sasquatch for comparison with that of an upright black bear and the illustrations are placed on facing pages for comparison. These drawings appeared as figures 3 and 4 in North America's Great Ape: the Sasquatch and as figures 13.1 and 13.2 in the recently published 2010 book, The Discovery of the Sasquatch: Reconciling Culture, History, and Science in the Discovery Process:

Figures 3 and 4 from North America's Great Ape: the Sasquatch

The prominent, “squarish” shoulders of the sasquatch differ from the sloping, tapered shoulders of bears and of all other mammals excepting the great apes and humans. It is these shoulders, and the upright stance and gait which gives the sasquatch such a human-like appearance.

When such illustrations become available, otherwise inexplicable reports begin to make sense, since the flat face of the sasquatch is indeed at variance with the prominent snout of the bear. Had observers of a sasquatch been presented with this alternative to an upright bear, they would at least have had the option of choosing it, rather than be forced to conclude that they must have seen "a flat-faced bear" or "a bear with its nose shot off." An experienced British Columbia prospector who observed a sasquatch in 1965 stated: "I don't know what it was but I know what it wasn't. And it wasn't a bear."

Most North American-educated wildlife biologists have had little or no exposure to the biology of the great apes. The result of this omission is that, to most North American biologists, reports of an animal resembling an upright gorilla throwing stones, beating its chest, breaking branches, and vocalizing loudly may appear so unlikely as to not make sense. As a result, reports of such behavior may be discounted and remain unfiled. Had North American biologists been more exposed to the primatological literature pertaining to the great apes of Africa and Asia—and more cognizant of the anatomy and behavior of those species—they might have been much more open to sasquatch reports. The tendency of wildlife professionals to treat sasquatch reports as reports of misidentified bears may actually attest to our ignorance of great ape anatomy and behavior.

Sasquatch tracks may be a similar situation. Published field guides of animal tracks do not include those of the sasquatch. As result, many wildlife biologists have suggested that that reports of sasquatch tracks are those of bears, the hind foot of which does include a heel and the track of which is a plantigrade track like that of the human and sasquatch foot. Bear tracks in soft substrates such as mud or wet sand, however, include claw marks and are not easily mistaken for the large, humanlike tracks of the sasquatch.

In fact, bear tracks in soft substrates such as mud or wet sand always include claw marks and are not easily mistaken for the large, humanlike tracks of the sasquatch.

Left: Grizzly bear tracks (Courtesy Tony Hamilton, Fish and Wildlife Branch, BC Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.)
Right: Sasquatch track. (Credit: anonymous Vancouver Island, BC deer hunter)