New Study In Journal Of Zoology Says Sasquatch Sightings Are Likely Just Bears

A new scientific study sadly announced that Bigfoot is probably not real. The Journal Of Zoology reported that when black bear populations increase in an area, so do the number of people reporting they saw a Sasquatch.

Mark Heinz

April 24, 20244 min read

Bigfoot and black bear 4 24 24
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

When the black bear population increases in an area, so does the number of people reporting they saw Bigfoot, according to a new study.

In other words, more often than not, people who report seeing a sasquatch probably saw a bear.

Bear expert and frequent backcountry hiker Chuck Neal of Cody said the results of the study recently published in the Journal of Zoology, don’t surprise him. In fact, he’s inclined to believe people are probably seeing bears and letting their brains convince them they saw something else.

“I can believe that readily. Without any hesitation at all, I can believe that,” Neal, a retired federal ecologist, told Cowboy State Daily. “There’s no such thing as Bigfoot, as far as I’m concerned. It’s all the product of people's overwrought imagination.”

Were Wyoming, Colorado and Utah Sightings Just Bears?

However, recent reported sightings in Colorado and Utah might still seem compelling to some.

Shannon and Stetson Parker of Cheyenne said they saw what very well could have been a Sasquatch while they were riding on a narrow-gauge railroad through the San Juan Mountains between Silverton and Durango, Colorado in October 2023. Another passenger took a video of encounter, which went so viral it practically broke the Internet.

Stetson, an avid outdoorsman who has seen lots of bears, told Cowboy State Daily at the time that the creature he spotted on a distant hillside wasn’t like anything he’d seen before.

“It wasn’t moving like a bear or anything else I’ve ever seen,” he said.

In February, video was taken in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains that allegedly depicted a dark figure moving upright along a steep, snow-covered slope at a seemingly impossible speed for any human or known critter, such as a bear.

There were also reportedly a rash of Bigfoot encounters in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains in 1972.

In a 2021 episode of William Shanter’s History Channel show “The UnXplained,” Wyoming resident John Mionczynski told Shatner that he’d experienced one of those encounters.

One night while in his tent, Mionczynski felt something pressing up against his tent. He assumed the animal was a large bear.

“The moon was coming up … and I clearly saw a hand with four fingers and an opposable thumb, like a human hand,” Mionczynski said on the show. “It was large, twice the size of my hand.”

He added that the creature’s movements were growing aggressive, so he hit it through the tent with the back of his hand. Which prompted the creature to take off.

People Thought Labradors Were Jaguars

The new Journal of Zoology study builds off previous research that suggested a growing number of black bears in the Pacific Northwest correlated with an increased number of people who reported seeing Bigfoot there.

Researchers expanded the study area to include the entire U.S. and Canda, and found similar results, according to the study.

“Based on statistical considerations, it is likely that many supposed sasquatch are really misidentified known forms. If bigfoot is there, it could be a bear,” the study’s abstract states, in part.

Neal said that makes sense. When there are rumors of a new creature in an area, even one known to be real animal, reports of that critter start popping up everywhere, he said.

For instance, jaguars, which once roamed the southeastern United States, have started reclaiming some of their old territory.

When there was one verified report of a jaguar a few years ago in southern Arizona, people started seeing jaguars everywhere, Neal said.

“There were reports coming in from all over the area of people seeing jaguars. Some people were even mistaking Labrador retrievers for black jaguars,” he said.

He thinks something similar happens with reported Bigfoot encounters, particularly if people catch glimpses of things like a bear standing upright.

“People can conjure up a Bigfoot sighting out of just about anything,” he said.

Contact Mark Heinz at

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter