Dec 1, 2014 | Marmot, Winter 2014

Trailing Big Foot

John Bindernagel hopes young Biologists follow in his footsteps to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sasquatch conundrum.

John Bindernagel was already an accomplished biologist with a healthy interest in sasquatch sightings when he saw his first sasquatch footprint.

The registered professional biologist and his wife Joan, both from Courtenay, were chaperoning an overnight high school hike with a class from Lake Trail Junior High back in 1987 when one of the students pointed out an unusual track in the mud.

The group had been hiking for about 90 minutes, on the way to Circlet Lake near Mount Washington, and had approached a low area.

“Everyone stepped over it and the last girl said ‘oh, my goodness, look at that track,” Bindernagel said. “It was going in the same way we were going.”

Fifteen minutes down the path there was another muddy spot, and this time five footprints.

“I wanted to go home and get Plaster of Paris and cast this track,” Bindernagel related. “Joan said we have this trip commitment to stay with this group.”

They spent the night and returned to their starting point via a different route. It was all Bindernagel could to do get back to the trail and see if the prints were still visible. Two days later they went back and were able to cast three prints of a human-like foot that dwarfs the biologist’s own foot.

“The best one was stepped in with a hiking boot by another hiker.”

So began a 27 year career for Bindernagel of studying sasquatch and their movements in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

At first, he was skeptical. He left the footprint casts on his desk at home, where they taunted him. “It became harder to avoid it,” he said.

Now his study is cluttered with casts of footprints such as the ones he originally cast in 1987 as well as others people have sent him. This year he and Joan are headed to Indonesia to meet with a colleague there and learn about other tracks discovered in that country.

That willingness to study the tracks and other information is something Bindernagel does not see here in Canada.

After he cast his own prints in 1987 he was travelling while doing contract consulting with the United Nations.

“Every time I came back I thought some young biologist would have jumped on this, wanting to identify a new species. Nobody did.”

While there is a plethora of supposition out there about sasquatches, scientists are reluctant to study the data that has been gathered. It’s a conundrum that makes Bindernagel impatient, but driven to find that one definitive piece of proof.

“I’m working with a lot of amateur investigators,” says Bindernagel. “They’re sharing their stuff and I’ve become an advocate for them.”

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