“Video capture image of what a Calgary researcher claims is Bigfoot. He claims to have taken the video in the spring of 2011, three hours from his home in Calgary in the Banff/Kootenay area. Photo courtesy Todd Standing”
If nothing else, the news is bound to make big strides with the Banff tourism industry.
No longer will Alberta’s best-known mountain park depend solely on breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife to impress visitors and lure overseas tourists.
And no more envy towards other famous vacation spots like Loch Ness and Lake Okanagan, where legendary creatures are rumoured to lurk.
Banff now has Bigfoot. Lots and lots of Bigfoots, in fact.
Yes, it’s an allegation that would have Ripley wondering whether to Believe it or Not, and P.T. Barnum reaching for his cheque book, but the mountains west of Calgary are a hotbed for the huge-footed primates.
That’s the assertion of a dedicated bigfoot research organization based near Calgary, which claims not only to have video and photo evidence of the mythical beast, but DNA proof as well.
“When I first started, I was a skeptic, but not anymore — now I’m a wholehearted believer in the species,” said Todd Standing, spokesman for the Sylvanic Bigfoot group.
Standing’s allegations of a Bigfoot colony living near the border of Banff and Kootenay national park will raise many eyebrows, but his evidence has piqued the interest of the Discovery Channel.
This week, crews from “Finding Bigfoot,” a hit show on Discovery’s Animal Planet channel, are filming in the Calgary area, and Standing says the upcoming episode will be centred upon Sylvanic’s discoveries.
“We’ve had exceptional results and we’re working with people doing DNA analysis,” said Standing.
He says preliminary results from hair samples sent in for testing suggest an unknown species of primate, while video and photographs suggest a creature larger than a gorilla, with human-like features.
Of course, it’s that latter evidence that’s bound to have the skeptics taking sasquatch-sized swipes at Standing, particularly the photographs he says are proof of Bigfoot.
Paranormal footage, as a rule, is supposed to be grainy, badly-focused and jittery, as if the camera was assembled by Fisher-Price and mounted to the bumper of a gravel truck.
Not Sylvanic: Standing boasts a collection of sharp video clips and crisp photographs of Bigfoot, showing far, far more than the usual hirsute primate dashing behind the nearest bush.
Instead of blur, we get full-face portraits of the creature, peering from behind trees.
“I’ve had multiple interactions with them, and I’ve filmed them and photographed them on many occasions,” said Standing.
“It’s a real, living breathing animal, which I got within 60 or 70 yards of.”
What the producers of Finding Bigfoot make of all this remains to be seen, as their quartet of sasquatchologists examines the Alberta evidence to see if it’s on solid footing.
The show has gone across North America investigating sightings of the creature, with the network “committed to looking for the Bigfoot until it’s found.”
Standing says he has — though he knows his belief in Bigfoot and the proof he produces from the Banff backwoods opens him to mockery, derision and the suggestion he should sober up.
But he accepts the skeptism, because he originally joined the Sylvanic team with the intent of disproving the ancient story of an ape-like creature hiding in the wilderness of North America.
“I thought it was a combination of hoaxes and mistaken identities, and I wanted to prove it wasn’t true,” said Standing.
Now, he says Bigfoot is a fact — and with weeks, he hopes to have the DNA evidence to prove it.
“We hope to have results by October,” said Standing.
If that’s the case, tourism officials in Banff will surely be thrilled. As it is, they welcome the attention of the popular television show, saying any link with Bigfoot is a bonus for visitors.
“Anything interesting that attracts people is a good thing — it seems like some harmless fun,” said Mary Morrison, spokeswoman for Banff Lake Louise Tourism.
“I mean, who wouldn’t want to see a Bigfoot?”