In an era where people take “unplugged” vacations, there’s something idyllic about a hairy biped that looks just a little bit like us but has no use for our high-tech ways. Ironically, Expedition Bigfoot, a new Travel Channel show, is using the advanced technology that Sasquatch eschews to track this elusive creature all while celebrating the mysteries of nature and the importance of science and conservation.
Expedition Bigfoot assembles an elite team of Bigfoot researchers for its eight-part series, which debuted December 8. A Bigfoot sighting algorithm helped them select the most promising three weeks of the year to search a 90,000-acre swath of central Oregon. The show promises “possible nesting sites, footprints and vocalizations,” “inexplicable events” and “one of the greatest pieces of video evidence in Bigfoot history,” according to the Travel Channel website. The Expedition Bigfoot cast includes Bryce Johnson overseeing expedition operations, Bigfoot researchers Ryan Golembeske, Russell Acord and Ronny LeBlanc, and primatologist Dr. Mireya Mayor.
Inhabitat caught up with Acord, who spoke while en route to the annual Sasquatch Summit in Washington. Acord’s answers here have been edited for space.
Inhabitat: What drives you to find Bigfoot?
Acord: It’s that chase. I got interested in the same thing that got everybody else interested, that ’67 footage. That, to date, has been the best footage that anyone has ever seen. I want to find something equally impressive and capture that same kind of Class-A sighting on film and just be part of that. But I can’t think of a better hobby other than being out in the wilderness, breathing all that beautiful air, climbing the mountains, looking for something like this. So it’s a win/win.
Inhabitat: How did you get involved with Expedition Bigfoot?
Acord: I think the producers were looking for boots-on-the-ground researchers. Collectively as a team, I can’t imagine working with somebody else on something this important. They’re definitely the A Team, and I feel very, very honored to be part of this as a researcher.
Inhabitat: Are you a 100 percent believer?
Acord: I am a 100 percent researcher. I believe in the possibility. I believe that there’s so much out there that we have yet to discover. I don’t think for a second that it’s not possible. There’s too much historical evidence, there’s too much evidence that we’ve run into that points directly to that. I believe in the possibility. Absolutely.
Inhabitat: What is your best guess on what Bigfoot is, based on research?
Acord: I grew up hunting in Montana, so I know that if it leaves tracks, it’s got body weight. If it makes sounds, it’s got lungs in order to make a sound. If it pushes things around, it’s got muscle mass.
I believe it to be a forest animal. I use the word “animal” loosely. I believe it to be of the forest, flesh and blood, that doesn’t need our electricity, our roads or our technology to survive. I think that it’s done a darned good job staying out of our path and avoiding us. Wherever it inhabits, wherever it lies, it is certainly not hurting our ecosystem whatsoever. I think that we’re encroaching on its space.
Inhabitat: What is its range?
Acord: I would think anywhere where there’s resources. I don’t think that we’re going to find him in the middle of the desert, but where there’s resources, trees, water. We’re all the same way. Humans are the same. I can physically walk from coast to coast if I take the time to do it. So I think there’s no limit to their range as far as where they can and will go for survival.
Inhabitat: Do you ever worry about what’s going to happen if you find Bigfoot?
Acord: That’s a double-edged sword. There could be two ways to look at that. Let’s suppose I’m in the Cascades and I find Bigfoot there. There will be a drive to protect that wildlife, to protect the landscape, to protect the environment. But then on the other side of it, there are ridiculous people on the planet that think that they have to be the ones that bag the big game. I don’t think you have to kill something to prove its existence. So a lot of researchers I know refuse to come forward with their findings simply because of that.
Inhabitat: If you finally came face-to-face with Bigfoot, how do you think you’d react?
Acord: I’m going to run up and grab a handful of chest hair. [Laughs.] I need a couple of samples. Let me get a selfie with you, let me get some pictures, but I want some hair.
I always go with the camera ready, too. I will get as much documentation as possible. Especially face-to-face, within 5 to 10 feet, I’m going to be rolling every piece of film I’ve got and collect as much as I possibly can, as far as evidence goes. But if I can get close enough to grab a handful of fur, I’m grabbing it.
Inhabitat: What are the most important pieces of equipment you have now that earlier Bigfoot seekers didn’t have?
Acord: I have military-grade thermal imaging. It will not only record on the device itself, but I can also sync it to my Bluetooth and run it off my iPhone. I have night vision goggles. Anything that records is definitely key.
One thing that you should always take with you is DNA collection. Take nitrile gloves, tweezers and a way to put it into a sealed environment. Don’t touch it with your skin, don’t breathe on it and just don’t contaminate it. Grab what you can, and research it once you get out to where you have the equipment. I have a microscope on my truck.
Inhabitat: What do you want viewers to know about Expedition Bigfoot, without spoiling any surprises?
Acord: The show is based on real, authentic research. It’s based on how we conduct ourselves in the field, what kind of technology is available to us and actually getting out there and doing it. The show is about consuming a piece of land, methodically working through it and really looking and doing in-depth research. The results certainly paid off.
Images via Expedition Bigfoot and Adam Neil