Bigfoot warnings dot Pa.'s state parks, but who put them there?

Frank Kummer
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

Over the summer, posters bearing an official looking imprimatur of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources started showing up stapled to trees in many of the state’s parks warning that a “creature resembling” Bigfoot had been spotted nearby.

The posters advise park goers to show “etiquette” and to be cautious. There have been enough posters plastered around, and enough social media posts about them, that the DCNR has been forced to respond.

“These signs were not posted by DCNR,” agency spokesman Wesley Robinson wrote in a statement to The Inquirer. He added, “Bigfoot is not real,” with a tongue-in-cheek disclaimer saying that is his opinion and not an official statement.

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The note on the posters reads in full — printed in all capital letters — and repeated in Spanish:

Warning!

Due to encounters in the area of a creature resembling “Bigfoot,” we are instructing all park visitors to observe elevated park etiquette, be cautious of your surroundings, and to keep the location of any small children/pets within a tighter scope of awareness.

Do not approach the creature!

Report any sightings to a ranger, front office, or to the DCNR office of missing persons.

Do not post sightings on social media.

A photo posted on Reddit over the summer purports to show a sign warning residents of Bigfoot sightings in Pennsylvania state parks. A spokesperson from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said they weren't made by the agency, and Bigfoot isn't real. (The Morning Call Handout/TNS)

“We have seen them at parks and forests since the late summer,” Robinsons said of the posters. “They are removed when they are reported or found by staff because they have not been authorized By DCNR.”

Robinson said staff has found the signs “at many parks” but doesn’t know exactly how many.

However, he noted that the DCNR “does recognize the public’s interest in the myth of Bigfoot and other similar cryptids. Some parks will engage with fun programming around those tales. That has nothing to do with the unauthorized signs.”

Pennsylvania has seen a resurgence in recent years of Bigfoot belief.

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization’s database, there have been what the group labels 124 credible Sasquatch sightings in Pennsylvania, ranking it 12th in most sightings of all states, with some as recently as this year. Washington is tops with 708, followed by California at 459, and Florida at 337.

There have also been sightings in Delaware (five) and New Jersey (75) — which also has its own unique mythic monster, the Jersey Devil, to fret about.

The Bigfoot researchers organization says that Sasquatch sightings have occurred for 400 years, with people reporting that they’ve seen “large, hair-covered, manlike animals in the wilderness areas of North America,” and that the sightings continue today.

“Real or not, these reports are often made by people of unimpeachable character,” the organization says.

Multiple local groups have popped up in support of searching for the creature in Pennsylvania’s more rugged, mountainous areas.

The Pennsylvania Bigfoot Project describes itself as an environmental conservation organization and hosts a private Facebook page dedicated to “nonjudgmental conversation” about a scientific approach to the search. There are at least half a dozen other Pennsylvania-centric groups dedicated to the legendary creature.

Mary Fabian, founder of the Pennsylvania Bigfoot Project, told PennLive that the poster “damages the work that we do” because hoaxes make a mockery of the scientific approach serious searchers adopt. She posted a plot of the poster with the word hoax scrolled across it on the group’s page.

As of now, however, another mystery remains unsolved: Who, or what, is putting up the warnings?