Not since Roger Patterson's 1967 encounter has there been so much hype over the possible discovery of Sasquatch, better known as Bigfoot.
In the deep woods of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest there could be a very real Bigfoot lurking in the night, belting out its blood-curdling serenades to all those who wish to lend a listening ear. And one local resident has garnered audio-proof that something unknown is calling out from the brushy swamp area east of Pendleton, Oregon.
The sounds emanating from the woods have been occurring since at least November and range in tone from high-pitched cries to deep-bodied roars. Sylvia Minthorn told The Oregonian
newspaper that the late-night shrieks are so piercing that even the hair on grown men will stand at attention.
Several local sources have already attributed the noises to those of foxes or coyotes. But some local residents are not so sure, and believe what they are hearing are the cries of the Bigfoot.
"It's causing an uproar around here," said Minthorn, who lives in a tribal housing unit near the swamp, where she used to play as a child.
The shrilly-night cries have been captured by Colleen Chance, a tribal housing authority employee, who recorded them on her iPhone.
"It's kind of spooky," she said. "Some say it's foxes, some say it's a female coyote and some say it's Sasquatch. I don't know what it is."
While everyone has their own opinions, so far no one has pinpointed the source. The Reservation covers some 178,000 acres and extends into northeastern Oregon's Blue Mountains. About 1,500 people call the area home.
The night shrieks have been of concern to a number of residents, said Chance, who has taken several calls from locals who are fearful of what may be lurking in their backyards.
John Franken, the housing authority's interim director, told The Oregonian that residents are struck with fear, and one man has even said his dog was too terrified to venture out for a walk because of the night noises.
Some rumors have spread quickly that the creature shrieking in the night is a young Bigfoot that had gotten separated from its family.
Bigfoot is the name given to a cryptid ape-like beast that purportedly stalks the forests of North America, with sightings reported in all 48 contiguous US states, Canada, and Alaska. Sightings of Bigfoot have also been reported in Mexico and in other countries around the world. In Asia, the Yeti is considered to be a close relative of America's Sasquatch.
Most scientists discount the existence of Bigfoot and typically call it a combinative representation of folklore, misidentification and hoax, mainly due to the lack of physical evidence. While mainstream science concludes Bigfoot is a fantastical myth, some scientists have expressed interest in research of the creature's supposed existence.
In most reports, Bigfoot is described as a large, hairy, ape-like, binary hominid, ranging from 6 to 10 feet tall and weighing in excess of 500 pounds. Most accounts report the animal covered in dark brown or dark reddish hair, but has been purportedly observed in black, gray and white hair as well.
Bigfoot gets its common name from the enormous size of its footprint, which has been found measuring up to 24 inches long and 8 inches wide. While most casts taken of the footprint have five toes - like all known apes - some casts have allegedly had digits ranging from two to six.
While there is no solid proof of the creature's existence, many have taken it upon themselves to make detailed descriptions of the creature's behavior; with most claiming it is omnivorous and mainly nocturnal.
While the scientific community largely debunks Bigfoot reports as hoaxes or misidentification, some Native American tribes, especially those of the Pacific Northwest, say that the creature is all too real. Stories of the hominids have been passed down from generation to generation in tribal cultures, so when the shrilly night cries first started emanating from the Reservation forests, it didn't take locals long to formulate an opinion on the source of those calls.
Carl Sheeler, wildlife program manager for the tribes, said that the calls could also be attributed to cougars, which are known to let out hair-raising noises, and so too are foxes.
"And the first time a person hears a fox calling in the night, kind of echoing around the canyons, it raises the hair on the back of your neck," Sheeler said. "That wetland is a perfect place to have an echoing call sound eerie," Sheeler added.
Sylvia Minthorn's uncle, Armand Minthorn, a tribal spiritual leader, said that he found a huge man-like footprint several years ago measuring about 18 inches long while hunting in the Blue Mountains.
Those mountains, and the surrounding woods, have long been rife with tales of Sasquatch ever since a cyclist from Walla Walla tribe found a 19-inch bare footprint in 1966 along Tiger Canyon Road.
And not even controversial hoaxing has been able to disrupt the Bigfoot believers in the region.
In 2002, Ray Wallace, of Centralia, Washington, claimed that he had been using strap-on wooden feet to leave large footprints around the West since 1958. According to his relatives, who made the information public at his funeral, Wallace was the source of most Bigfoot stories in the region for nearly 40 years.