By Joshua Estabrooks
Deep in the backcountry, near the border of Kootenay and Banff National Parks, resides a mythical creature of the forest. The existence of Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch or Yeti, has fascinated and occupied many an intrepid explorer for as long as man has existed.
Although most people are skeptical of their existence, there are some who have dedicated their lives to the search for, and protection of, these guardians of the forest. None more so than Calgary resident, Todd Standing, who has recently come out of the online shadows with what he believes is definitive video evidence from his research area deep in the parks.
Mr. Standing began his research as a skeptic, but said what he experienced in the woods while out on expeditions with those who believed in the creature’s existence over the years has converted him into a believer.
He spearheaded a petition that went to the Federal government, seeking protection of the species once they are proven to exist, and has been most recently working with a number of television shows that have been after his footage for some time.
Even with the video, photo, footprint casts and even DNA evidence he has collected during his epic and dangerous backcountry excursions, he said the only proof that will convince the scientific community and the government beyond a shadow of a doubt is a significant piece of a Sasquatch body that has expired within the last 20 years.
This would be the Holy Grail, he said, but until that day he will continue to travel into the woods, saying he is willing to take anyone who can handle the terrain and want to see the creatures for themselves.
The expeditions are grueling and dangerous, Mr. Standing explained, as the terrain the Sasquatch reside in is extremely difficult to traverse, and also contains numerous grizzly bears, cougars, and other large predators. He has been charged by bears before and more often then not he exits the woods without seeing the Bigfoot, he reported.
“The sentinels, or day-watchers, that watch over the main group of Bigfoot, go to the highest points and triangulate themselves around the colony,” he explained. “I’ve never successfully got close enough to get past the watchers. I basically can get close enough to catch them on video running away from me back to the main group.”
These fleeting encounters have not discouraged Mr. Standing however, and with the recent attention by Paranormal Investigator, Joshua P. Warren, the program Finding Bigfoot, Fact or Fiction, and a possible entire series with Survivorman, Les Stroud in preliminary discussions, he is hoping to get the word out.
His research group is offering a $2 million reward to anyone who can bring in the definitive evidence needed to prove the existence of the species and help protect it.
Sylvanic.com is Mr. Standing’s website, and he said the goal of his group is to connect researchers and believers in an effort to ethically introduce civilization to the creatures, which is why there is an initial need for confidentiality and discretion.
“Every time I come back from a successful expedition scientists and researchers from China and Russia all fly in. I show them my videos and we discuss them. I had a primatologist just jump on board recently and he’s got real hands-on experience with gorillas and chimps, so he helps us analyze what we observe.”
“As soon as Bigfoot is proven to exist, which requires a significant body part, the Canadian government will immediately move to protect them based on our work, and forestry officers will be forced to go up and find their domiciles and start protecting them immediately.”
Until that day, however, Mr. Standing said he is contemplating giving up on trying to gather any more superficial evidence, like videos or hair samples, as no matter how much he collects, it will never be enough for the skeptics.
He has decided to teach others what he has learned, and said he will continue to risk his life in the woods studying the fascinating creatures, whether or not people believe his claims.
“Despite Kootenay and Banff National Park’s extensive backcountry wildlife monitoring program, our cameras and researchers have been unsuccessful in recording any images or other evidence of this elusive creature,” said Lindsay McPherson, Parks Canada Public Relations and Communications Officer.
“Throughout the decades, since Kootenay’s establishment in 1920 and Banff National Park in 1885, Bigfoot has also managed to evade all backcountry wardens, producing no documented sightings.
“However, should Mr. Standing manage to produce any conclusive evidence of this rare (mythical) species, Parks Canada will work with him to ensure its protection within the parks boundaries.”