Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Florida's Bigfoot

If it's unlikely the Pacific Northwest harbors an undiscovered ape, it would seem absurd to think the much-traveled state of Florida could have a population of similar creatures. Yet, there have been sightings of what's often called "the Skunk Ape" going back decades, at least.
Now film students at Florida International University have trekked through the swamps and woods to produce a documentary on the story. They did not find the Skunk Ape, but as one student said, "'There are a lot of things going on in the Everglades, a lot of reports of smells and sightings and a whole bunch of things. Who are we to say because we didn't see it, it doesn't exist? Maybe there is something out there.''

It would be nice to think so.

ADDITIONAL COMMENT: Back in 1976, I was doing campaign research for a fellow running for Florida state legislature in what was then District 48, centered around Vero Beach ( about an hour south of Canaveral on the east coast). We naturally combed all the newspapers printed in our district. One, I believe from the town of St. Cloud, was headlined "800-Pound Hairy Creature Stalking Reedy Creek" and discussed a Skunk Ape sighting in that very rural area. We made a lot of jokes about it being our opponent out campaigning, but I never did read anything more about it. There was even a rumor going around the high school that some students had a sighting about the same time near Vero, on the banks of the Indian River (which is really a lagoon), though I never tracked it to a first-hand account.
The sightings in those days did lead to a bill introduced the next year in the Legislature making it illegal to "molest or annoy" a skunk ape. As I remember it, one legislator brought up the topic and asked, "Mr. Speaker, would you tell me why anyone in his right mind would annoy a giant eight-foot-tall ape?" (I was a page in the Florida House at the time and witnessed the exchange on what must have been a slow legislative day. This was on the floor of the full House, but I'm not certain whether the bill had actually made it out of committee or was just brought up as a point of interest for discussion. I do know it didn't pass.)

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