TV crew to follow ‘Bigfoot hunters’ in Yellowstone this summer

From left, Cliff Barackman, James Fay, Ranae Holland and Matt Moneymaker consult a map during an episode of “Finding Bigfoot.”

Paul Souders/Animal Planet.

From left, Cliff Barackman, James Fay, Ranae Holland and Matt Moneymaker consult a map during an episode of “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet.

Yellowstone National Park is home to some of the most photographed wildlife in the world, with tourists on constant lookout for everything from grizzly bears and gray wolves to pelicans and pikas. But this summer, a reality show crew will be adding at least one new species to their must-see list: Bigfoot.

As unlikely as it might sound, a four-person production crew is scheduled to spend up to 10 weeks in Yellowstone from mid-June through August taping segments for “Yellowstone Bigfoot Hunt,” a new reality TV show set to debut in October on the Adventure Channel.

The decision by park officials to permit the production is drawing criticism from some environmental groups, while others are praising the project as a great way to draw attention to the park while boosting local gateway economies.

Common sense dictates that finding a previously undiscovered primate in the high country of Yellowstone is about as likely as spotting a unicorn. But park officials say the program has met all necessary requirements for receiving a commercial photography permit.

“So long as the production doesn’t interfere with normal park operations and abides by the terms and conditions of the permit, they will be allowed to tape segments about Bigfoot—or any other-size-footed animals they might find here,” said Yellowstone spokesman Stan Thatch.

Permit guidelines for the park state that “documentaries filmed specifically for sale to a news station or educational channel are considered a commercial venture and require a permit.”

Thatch said “Yellowstone Bigfoot Hunt” is considered a commercial film shoot, and under park rules, the production company must pay a $150 daily location fee based on its crew size.

Whenever the crew is operating in an area with thermal features or along roadsides or other sensitive areas, it will be required to have a Yellowstone staff member on site as a monitor, Thatch said. Such a requirement is a standard provision of the park’s permit guidelines. The crew must reimburse the National Park Service at the rate of $65 per hour for each staff monitor, he said.

 

Mocks conservation efforts

Sharm Dresden, wildlife policy specialist for the Friends of Yellowstone Alliance, said the quest for Sasquatch in the world’s first national park will make a mockery of efforts to protect and preserve actual threatened and endangered species, and would likely confuse visitors unfamiliar with Yellowstone’s unique ecosystem.

“I can’t imagine this is even being entertained,” Dresden said. “We already have far more compelling real wildlife that people can actually see every day in Yellowstone. Why are we promoting a literal Bigfoot hunt? Literally.”

Wyoming Rep. Teetrick Huddleton, a Republican from Cody, praised the decision to issue the permit, saying it will draw international attention to Yellowstone and its gateway towns. Huddleton, who co-chairs the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Committee on Film, Television, Rodeos and Parades, said he had met with the “Yellowstone Bigfoot Hunt” crew, and is convinced they will be careful and conscientious.

“These people are trained Hollywood professionals,” Huddleton said. “I have every confidence that they’ll treat Yellowstone with respect. The park has to be open to many uses, and this is a legitimate deal here. I see no reason to exclude them.”

Cable TV already has two Bigfoot-themed programs, with “Finding Bigfoot” recently completing its fourth season on Animal Planet and “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty” premiering earlier this year on Spike. The success of those shows may explain why the fledgling Adventure Channel is looking to make a splash by setting a reality show about Bigfoot in Yellowstone.

“You tend to get a lot of copycat productions whenever a reality show concept pops,” said Don Weaver, president of Dream Factory Productions in North Hollywood, Calif. Weaver’s company is not affiliated with “Yellowstone Bigfoot Hunt,” and efforts to reach representatives from the show were not successful.

“The idea these days is that you have to come up with an outrageous concept if you expect to cut through the clutter of all the shows lined up on basic cable,” Weaver said. “It might work better, actually, as a Bigfoot dating show.”

 

No reported sightings

Thatch said he was not aware of any recent Bigfoot encounters in or around the park, and that the Park Service does not formally track unexplained animal sightings.

“We do track things like reports of wolves with sarcoptic mange, for instance. Our biologists want to stay on top of that. But there is no cryptozoologist on staff at Yellowstone, so we don’t keep up with Yetis, dragons or mermaids,” he said.

Dresden said she was concerned that the TV crew or park visitors might chase after bears or other wildlife in an effort to capture Sasquatch on camera, and that it was an inappropriate production to be allowed in the park.

“This flies in the face of the educational and interpretive mission the Park Service is supposed to be carrying out. We wouldn’t allow a crew to film a ‘Leprechaun Search’ show at the Lincoln Memorial, so why is this being permitted?” she said.

Huddleton said the program would be a much-needed shot in the arm for gateway towns like Cody, and that “the jury is still out on whether Bigfeets exist.”

“Can you imagine the tourist traffic we’d see if they even caught a glimpse of one of those things? Where’s the harm?” he said. “I’ve never met anyone who’s actually seen a wolverine in Yellowstone either. Let them film their program.”

Thatch said no final decision has been made on whether Park Service staff would appear on camera as part of “Yellowstone Bigfoot Hunt.”

“To the extent that something like that might happen, I would imagine that it would be only a brief interview to refute the notion that Bigfoot exists, and to rule out that he—or she—might be found somewhere in the park,” he said.

Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].

12 thoughts on “TV crew to follow ‘Bigfoot hunters’ in Yellowstone this summer

  1. This should be an interesting diversion for the Park Staff. They must get bored reconnoitering the rims for missing picnic baskets and whatnot. It’s always good to have something to do.

  2. The environmentalist wonders why the Park would even entertain this notion. Maybe because there really is a Bigfoot? Duh. Get over it enviros.

  3. “No reported sightings.” Did they check the park archives? There are reports there: I’ve seen them.

  4. Surprise, surprise: ANOTHER federal land grab. We all know this is just the first step toward a supposed “listing” of the “endangered” Bigfoot (a.k.a. another excuse to keep taxpayers off THEIR public lands). It’s pathetic that Thatch would claim the Park Service will “refute” Bigfoot claims when it’s obvious they and Obama have this game rigged from the word go. NO!

  5. Whoever planned the production for this film obviously doesn’t know that bigfoot are deeply nocturnal during the summer months, foraging only between midnight and 4 a.m., and doing so at least 10 miles from the nearest trailhead. The camera crew would have a much better chance of sightings if they went in the spring, when the traffic in the park is basically non-existent and the bigfoot roam more freely to eat the dry carcasses of the snow locusts that died over the winter. In fact, I’ve heard that today is the only day of the year when bigfoot are easily sighted in Yellowstone during the daytime.

  6. The reporters lack of investigation and the NP Service’s ignorant replies says a lot. If they would have done their research they would have discovered many sightings in the entire ecosystem not only from visitors but Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers, NP Service Trail Crew, NP Service backcountry rangers as well as area outfitters since the 1960′s. The ecosystem is entirely capable of supporting such a large animal.
    The lack of research in the media has also overlooked the fact that the species existence has been supported by many top scientist in the world, National Geographic, The Smithsonian recently stated the high probability of it’s existence too. Famed chimp researcher Jane Goodall is a believer as well.
    The fact that over 10,00o sightings in North America have occurred since the 1880′s is overlooked.
    Thousands of documented tracks + dermal ridge cast have been produced.
    Hundreds of hair samples collected in N. America being from “un known primate”.
    Not to mention every Native American Tribe has a name for this animal…the most known in the Salish word Sasquatch.
    Also consider that fact how many wolverine skeletons have been found in the park? What are the odds of finding a wolverine when there may only be 50 in the whole ecosystem, yet they wonder why they can’t find a sasquatch skeleton when maybe their are only 300 on the entire continent.
    I personally know several rangers that have had an encounter as well as an Idaho Game and Fish Warden to name a couple.

  7. Here we go again! Some Tree Hugging Liberal is having a temper tantrum, due to someone wanting to film Big Foot. Really? You do know they have a better shot of buying a Winning Mega Millions ticket and getting run over by a bus on the same day? This is a National Park! Not a Park, only for over the top tree huggers. Get over yourself lady. As far as your claim that this will cause park visitors to “Chase Bears” , you do know that “tourons” (Moronic Tourist) will chase bears (AND DIE TRYING), regardless if there is a film crew in Yellowstone or NOT!

  8. the park has a lot of very cool animals to see . I have been working with real bigfoots for years here in the state of Montana but I think bigfoots are in most states too . if bigfoot isn’t in the park that would shock me. hope they film them, its nice to see government help to show others that this park has bigfoot people on the parks list of many cool things you may see here. if you need help finding bigfoot I can help you if you help to pass laws to protect them from being hunted like game animals. they are a people and should never be shot at for food or sport! good luck! albert