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'Finding Bigfoot' believes South Jersey has Sasquatch activity

Kyle Newhall of Pemberton, Burlington County, howls to stir up Bigfoots during a late-night search in woods near Medford on a "Finding Bigfoot" episode that premiered on Animal Planet on Jan. 26, 2014.
Kyle Newhall of Pemberton, Burlington County, howls to stir up Bigfoots during a late-night search in woods near Medford on a "Finding Bigfoot" episode that premiered on Animal Planet on Jan. 26, 2014.

South Jersey is “very Squatchy” and has “a lot of Sasquatch activity,” Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot declared on a new episode that aired last night.

The investigation team, led by Matt Moneymaker, checked out a report of cast of a mysterious footprint, tramped through woods near Medford, listened to accounts of  sightings, set up two sensor-triggered cameras, and spent a spooky summer or warm fall night deep in the Pine Barrens.

No doubt about it, South Jersey is Bigfoot territory, concluded Moneymaker and fellow members of the Bigfoot Research Organization, James “Bobo” Fay”  and Cliff Barackman.

Those legends about the Jersey Devil? Well, maybe back in the beginning, they described a demonic creature with wings and a goat’s head, but later in the 1800s at least half the witnesses described a large creature with “glowing red eyes,” “eight feet tall,” and “smelling like hell,” Fay said.

See: “Top 20 States for Bigfoot Sightings”

Speaking of legends, the show also said bodies are dumped “pretty regularly” in the Pine Barrens by the  “the Mafia.”

“We might find Jimmy Hoffa,” Fay said.

They didn’t. But Barackman discovered a lot of deer, demonstrating that South Jersey is a great place for an “ambush predator,” like Bigfoot, to “jump out and wring Bambi’s neck.”

South Jerseyan Phil Abernathy related how, while hunting deer one night, he saw a massive creature stand up and scream.

“It looked like a giant person covered in hair,” he said.

“He was angry that I destroyed his hunt.”

Team member James “Bobo” Fay,” a tall beefy guy, stood at the spot where the supposed Bigfoot was, and Abernathy said the creature was at least a foot taller.

“I can say without a doubt he saw a Squatch in the Pine Barrens,” Fay said. “... He saw what he saw. ... He’s a lifer. He’s a Piney.”

Not that anyone bothered to ask if, maybe, in the middle of the night, using just a flashlight, Abernathy might have actually seen a bear. Black bears are known to live in many New Jersey counties, and can stand up to seven feet tall.

A science teacher named Regina said she once saw a herd of deer run across a road followed by a massive creature. On all fours, it was about five feet high, and its body filled the narrow road.

“I saw something that I can’t explain,” she said. “I’m just telling you it was way bigger than any of the deer in this area, and it was way bulkier than anything I have seen in these woods.”

The show’s skeptic, field biologist Ranae Holland, found the account confusing.

But Moneymaker reassured the witness that Holland “would try to twist it so she can debunk, and we’re not going to let her.”

“It could have been nothing else but a Sasquatch,” he said.

Again, there was no discussion of bears, though Holland mentions that explanation on her Twitter page, @skeptiscientist. (Two comments there: “Why does Matt ignore reason and say it MUST be a squatch? ever think the witness is #smokingcrack?”  and “Matt failed to rule out the dark billowing smoke from Lost. It crossed roads too.”)

Late-night comics could joke that maybe Chris Christie was chasing the deer vote.

Despite several nocturnal sojourns in the woods, the show turned up not a shred of hard evidence.

Not even a fleeting thermal image of a possible biped-estrian in the woods.

One wonders if it’s a good idea to noisily blare a xaphoon (like Newhall did), scream like a “banshee” (as Holland did) or whack sticks against trees or when you’re trying to catch a glimpse of an elusive, supposedly intelligent creature.

In past episodes, Finding Bigfoot tried staging a rave and driving around in ATVs, hoping to rouse some Sasquatch curiosity.

Might try stealth. Or how about dogs? Or how about using burgers or pizzas as bait?

The man who claims he shot and killed a Bigfoot in Texas said he used porkribs from Walmart.

Piles of cranberries were placed in front of the two automatic cameras, which got clear pictures only of Finding Bigfoot team members, as they came to check the results.

The cameras were apparently left out for only one night.

The team even dismissed the possible evidence that brought them to New Jersey. It was the cast of a large footprint, presented by a young man named Kyle Newhall, who lives in Pemberton, according to his Facebook page.

It was likely a human footprint, since it showed by a longitudinal arch and a transverse arch, Barackman said.

“It’s not my fault you don’t know what you’re looking at,” Newhall said.

Not that the lack of evidence deterred Finding Bigfoot’s trio of believers.

“New Jersey certainly blew my mind ... They are here!” one team member said.

“I’m sure the Garden State will continue to have Bigfoot for 100 years!” Moneymaker concluded.

No luck finding a link to a free copy of the episode, which isn’t slated to air again soon. The Animal Planet website offered only a short teaser titled, “Sounds of a South Jersey Sasquatch?”

For more reports of local sightings, see SouthJerseyBigfoot.com or the Bigfoot Research Organization’s compilations for New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

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