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Monday, October 14, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Oh, deer: Documents reveal FBI once tested hair an Oregon man thought was from Bigfoot

UPDATED: Thu., June 6, 2019, 8:49 a.m.

A photo from released FBI files showing a hair sample analyzed by the agency that had been submitted in 1976 as possible Sasquatch hair. The analysis concluded “that the hairs are of deer family origin.” (FBI)
A photo from released FBI files showing a hair sample analyzed by the agency that had been submitted in 1976 as possible Sasquatch hair. The analysis concluded “that the hairs are of deer family origin.” (FBI)
By Erik Lacitis Seattle Times

The term “newly released FBI files” always has a nice, mysterious ring to it.

Expand it to “newly released FBI Bigfoot files,” and now we really have something. A super combo!

On Wednesday, the agency posted some new documents to its website FBI Records: The Vault, including some on the legendary Bigfoot. Yes, the FBI once opened a file on Bigfoot.

The FBI site has some 6,700 documents – from time periods like “Gangster Era” and “Public Corruption”— released by the agency in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The agency adds documents to the site on a regular basis.

The Bigfoot files added Wednesday concern a 1976 request by Peter C. Byrne, a self-styled adventurer who at the time ran The Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition in The Dalles, Oregon.

Asked about the release of the documents Wednesday, the FBI’s press office in Washington said in an email: “We have no comment.”

But back in 1976, in one letter to the FBI, Byrne wrote, “Briefly, we do not often come across hair which we are unable to identify and the hair that we have now, about 15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin, is the first that we have obtained in six years which we feel may be of importance.”

He wanted the FBI laboratory to analyze them. “Please understand that our research here is serious,” Byrne wrote in another letter.

Byrne is now 93 and lives in Pacific City, Oregon. He closed down his Bigfoot center in the late 1990s.

He remembers why he made his request to the FBI.

“It was a (Bigfoot) sighting on the coastal range of Oregon, in the wilderness not far from the California border,” Byrne said Wednesday. “It was credible, by two men who were U.S. Forest Service employees. They found footprints and they were amazed. Fourteen-inch barefoot footprints. They got hair samples that were snagged. We did our own search and we got hairs.”

Jay Cochran Jr., assistant director for the FBI’s Scientific and Technical Services Division, wrote back to Byrne, indicating the agency “conducts examinations primarily of physical evidence in connection with criminal investigations.”

But Cochran decided OK, he’d make an exception, “in the interest of research and scientific inquiry.”

Another reason that Cochran may have found Byrne’s request credible was because, according to the just-released documents, this was not the first time the FBI had been asked to test possible Sasquatch samples. The agency had reportedly done that at least a year earlier.

The problem was, according to the documents, “we have been unable to locate key references to such examinations in our files.”

The previous lab report was referenced in a 111-page Army Corps of Engineers publication, “1975 Environmental Atlas for Washington.”

And right there, on page 73 of the atlas, was a map plotting numerous “Sasquatch tracks and Sightings.” Then, on page 53 of the atlas, was a statement that the existence of Sasquatches “is hotly disputed.”

There also was this interesting sentence:

“Alleged Sasquatch hair samples inspected by the FBI laboratories resulted in the conclusion that no such hair exists on any human or presently known animal for which such data is available.”

But at least now there were Byrne’s hair samples.

So off went the 15 hairs to the FBI’s headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C.

The lab examined them “by transmitted and incident light microscopy” that included “root structure, medullary structure and cuticle thickness in addition to scale casts,” wrote Cochran. Plus, they were compared “with hair of known origin.”

And?

“It was concluded as a result of those examinations that the hairs are of deer family origin.”

Byrne says he accepted those results.

These days, he and others are still looking for Sasquatches, placing motion-sensor cameras in wilderness areas.

“Yes, absolutely, yes, I do,” he says about his belief in the existence of Sasquatches.

As for that lost FBI lab report, the reason you can find a PDF of the Army Corps of Engineers atlas is because of the efforts of John Greenewald, 38, of Castaic, California. For 22 years, his hobby has been to make FOIA requests for documents and post them on his website, The Black Vault.

So far he’s posted more than 2 million pages of declassified documents. “I have always had a fascination with history and government secrets,” he says.

It is Greenewald who, a year ago, posted the Sasquatch documents the FBI added to its own vault on Wednesday.

He, too, wonders about that FBI lab report that can’t be found.

“Unless there is some kind of firm evidence to take them to court, there’s not much you can do,” he says. “But there was definitely something that made the Army Corps of Engineers put that in the atlas. They wouldn’t do that without having some kind of substance.”

The Bigfoot mystery just keeps going. You wouldn’t expect anything less, would you?

Wordcount: 829

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