Anthroplogist speculates that creature might be exotic bear


Mar 11, 2001
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Anthroplogist speculates that creature might be exotic bear

Experts investigating sightings of large, mysterious animal in Indiana

By Kurt Van der Dussen, Bloomington Herald-Times Staff Writer


HARDIN RIDGE — It's almost certainly not an ape, but it might be some sort of exotic bear.

That was the preliminary assessment of veteran Indiana University anthropologist Dick Adams after examining the footprints left by some sort of 5-foot-tall shaggy animal behind a Chapel Hill Road residence Wednesday afternoon.

After seeing the tracks, Adams was inclined to rule out any fakery. "We can safely say it was not a Bigfoot," he said.

The animal had shaggy, long, nearly black hair and was standing on its hind legs in a semi-crouch. It was spotted by Dale Moore and Penny Howell, and a small child who was with them.

The animal, about 200 feet away at the rear of a back yard close to a wooded ravine, turned and swiftly shuffled off down the slope into the woods. But it left a number of heavy, four-toed tracks, some with deep claw marks, impressed in the wet clay.

Moore said Wednesday night he thought it was a bear. Howell said Thursday that it was "apelike" and not a bear.

Later Thursday, two veteran state Fish and Wildlife Division biologists, Jim Mitchell and Gary Langell, said it was possible that some sort of ape someone was keeping as an exotic pet had escaped.

At that time, Adams tended to concur with them. He suggested an orangutan, though he agreed that didn't match the description of a nearly black animal with a patch of white fur atop its head and on its neck.

That, and the long claws, are characteristic of some badgers. But as Mitchell noted, the animal being described was far bigger than any badger.

Friday afternoon, Adams and his son Scott returned to the site, where at least two of the tracks had survived a night of heavy rains.

They took numerous photos and poured plaster casts, though they were not hardening in the cold, damp air and clay and were left for retrieval later.

Scott Adams also ventured down a ravine to a creek and found two spots with five possible footprints from the animal, including one with claw marks.

Scott Adams, an IU computer services employee, shares his dad's interest in both the biology and folklore of unexplained animal sightings, and often investigates them with him.

Dick Adams said that "after seeing the prints, I would say on first thought that it is not an ape."

He said he thought it more likely might be some sort of bear. And Howell's description of a white patch of fur atop the animal's head and back neck had him thinking it wasn't an American black bear — which also has five toes, not four.

Adams said it's possible the animal is an "exotic" bear that was somebody's pet whose escape was never reported.

"We just don't have enough evidence at this point," he said, adding, "Let's hope there's more sightings."

Finding the other tracks, especially three on a steep, slick hillside well downhill, inclined his son to rule out a hoax.

Still, fish and wildlife biologist Mitchell said he is urging people in the area not to shoot the animal if they spot it, despite their fears for children.

If it did turn out to be a kid carrying out a hoax, he said, it would be tragic. "You can't take back a bullet," he said.

Meanwhile, another area resident recounted Friday his own sighting of a similar animal in the same area a decade ago.

Kevin Burrin said it occurred while he was camping with three other people in the Hardin Ridge area by Blackwell Lake.

"While walking around the lake, I saw an animal similar to what was described ... only it appeared to me to be taller than five feet," he said. "It quickly disappeared into the woods when I moved toward it to get a better look.

"I couldn't find any tracks, but it did run off upright with a gait unlike any I have ever seen," he said.

Penny Howell had described the animal as walking downhill back into the woods still hunched over and on its rear feet only, front legs dangling in front of it.

Reporter Kurt Van der Dussen can be reached at 331-4372 or by e-mail at


Indiana Mystery Creature Baffles. People Claim Seeing Hairy, 2-Legged Being

February 2, 2002


MONROE COUNTY, Ind. -- Rick Deckard looks at the footprints on the ground near his property and is certain of two things.

Whatever left the prints walked on two legs. And it wasn't human.

Deckard is one of several people in and around the Hoosier National Forest, in the hills of Monroe County south of Bloomington, who have reported signs or sightings of a mysterious, upright-walking creature in the past few years.
"It's no bear or cat," Deckard (pictured, right) said Friday, dismissing suggestions of skeptics. "A cat walks on four legs, and a bear walks on four legs. They don't walk on two legs. This thing here walks on two legs with a round paw."

The Department of Natural Resources' Russ Grunden also is certain of something.

"(Either) it's an exotic pet that somebody released or that escaped ... or it's a neighbor kid dressed up, playing games," Grunden said. "You never know which it could be."

That opinion doesn't stop the reports from coming in. Those who claim to have seen the creature say it is about 5 or 6 feet tall, hairy, and weighs more than 200 pounds.

Area resident Dale Moore Sr. said his son and a friend saw the creature Wednesday in the back of Deckard's property, near the Hoosier National Forest's Hardin Ridge Recreation Area. Moore said he was told that when the creature saw them, it made a hasty retreat into the woods below Deckard's home, leaving behind only footprints.

"It's something. It's not a hoax," Moore said.

Deckard, looking at the prints on the ground Friday, said the creature easily weighs more than 200 pounds.

"I weigh 200, and a friend of mine, he weighs 270. We walked down there yesterday in that dirt, and we never even sunk," Deckard said. "This thing, it took the grass as it went."

As witnesses and wildlife experts argue about what the creature could be, one other thing is certain: No clear photographs of the creature are available.

Link to video of news report and tracks.


Well-known member
Jan 2, 2002
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Are there any camers in Indiana?  Maybe some one could get a picture of this thing and post it.

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