The Centre for Fortean Zoology was founded in the UK in 1992 - nearly 20 years ago. Over the past two decades it has expanded to become a truly global organisation. We opened our American office in 2001, our Australian office in 2009, and now - in our 19th year - we are proud to welcome CFZ Canada to the CFZ global family.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Need for Fieldwork

I often hear it said that one is not a "real" cryptozoologist unless they go out into the field.  I'm here to tell you that is simply not true.

The nature of Cryptozoology is to find, understand, identify, protect, document and protect species that are, as yet, unidentified.  To do this, a researcher has to be familiar with many different sciences-most importantly biology, linguistics, and ecology.  To be a successful, respected researcher this requires a great deal of work.  There are thousands of "semi-discovered" species;  beasts that have been seen but not yet identified.  To understand each of them would take a lifetime.  A good researcher must choose his favorite and fully do the work.  It's not enough to just be interested.

Bigfoot researchers, the good ones, can tell you the pros and cons
of the Patterson-Gimlin film, for instance.  They have learned about cinematography, climate, zoology, and many more disciplines.  To make a legitimate claim of being a "Bigfoot Researcher" one doesn't have to go camping at all.  If the researchers choose to do fieldwork, it should only be undertaken after become very well versed in the area.  In addition to all of the reports, s/he would have to know the terrain, the dangers, and the patterns of the sightings. S/he should understand primates, of course, but also a bit about the psychology of the witness.

Too many people drag a tent and a trailcam into some cool woods to "research".  All too often this means taking some friends, building a fire and downing a few beers.  That sounds like a great time!  But it's not research.  In fact, it almost guarantees you won't experience anything cryptozoological at all.  It certainly does not fit the definition of  "research".

Another example is Mothman.  No good hypothesis has ever been brought forth for this strange beast.  In the interest of "research", thousands flock to the West Virginia Mothman Festival in the hope of meeting reality TV personalities involved in "the research".  Here's a tip; reality TV has very little reality.  Virtually everything is "reenacted", scripted, and edited.  The next tier of "researchers"go to the Mothman Museum, see a couple of documentaries, then "investigate" the TNT area where mothman was sighted in the 1960's.  While slightly better, they really are not researchers, but rather "enthusiasts".  Most don't even know that Mothman has been seen worldwide for centuries, and continues to be seen pretty much everywhere EXCEPT Point Pleasant, WV.  The better group of researchers will probably be found in the local library, the state archives, the farm museum, or Chicago.  This group will be trying to understand the psychology of a witness, the physical limitations of the proposed beast, and so much more.  None of them will be hanging out getting autographs from Josh Gates.

Fieldwork should be one of the last methods a crypto researcher should take on.  Before taking off to the woods, ask yourself these things:

  1.  Is this the time of year when sightings have occurred?
  2.  What kinds of animals are in this area?
  3.  Has fieldwork been done at this site already?
  4.  Do you have permission to be on this land?
  5.  What will you do if you DO have a sighting?

Additionally, be safe.  No fieldwork is useful if you get injured.  Be sure to have at least one other person with you (but probably not more than four on site) and reliable communication.  If there is no cell service, take a radio.

Good research in the field requires good equipment as well.  Don't waste your money on a FLIR.  Instead, pack your kit with a good camera (not your phone camera).  Make sure you have sound recording equipment.  Skip the trailcam, that's for when you are NOT in the field.

Take a pen and paper.  Make lots of notes.  Take gloves, both disposable and heavy duty.  Take some ziplock bags for living specimens and excrement and some paper ones for tree branch clippings.  Take photos of what you are collecting BEFORE you collect them.  Be sure you have plenty of water and something to drink it out of.  A first aid kit is a must, including treatment for insect, animal, and snake bites.  Take plaster (and something to mix it in and with) for molds of footprints et al.  Use sunscreen, preferably odorless.  Packaged wipes, lip balm, and toilet paper will also make your trip a little more pleasant.  Take a trash bag and leave the area just as you found it.

Too many throw a backpack of food and water in the car and take off to the woods.  These are not researchers.  These are enthusiasts, or maybe even investigators.  There is no problem with that, not at all, as most good reports come from enthusiasts.  Words matter, however.  Don't call yourself a "researcher" unless you research.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook

Something a little different today; a "book" review of sorts.  It's been pretty quiet in the Great White North lately, so finding something to write about is a challenge.  

Oak Ridges Moraine is in Ontario.  It's a protected green space just north of Toronto.  It's 1,900 square kilometres (730 sq mi)  and runs from Caledon to Rice Lake.  Parts of it are under consideration to become developed, but that's not what this is about.  It has lakes and streams and many species which are listed as endangered.  Relics of historical significance relative to native peoples are found regularly.  Formed by glacial movement, the moraine is a supplier of water for many communities.

The Oak Ridges Trail Guidebook was published by the Oak Ridges Trail Association.  Edition 7 is the most recent, released Spring 2019, and costs about $50.  My copy is a second edition that I found at a yard sale.  That doesn't mean it isn't worth $50, especially if you are an avid hiker, it just means that for Cryptozoological purposes and older edition will also work.  Some local libraries in Ontario also have copies.

Fieldwork in this field requires more than just pitching a tent and buying a trailcam. If you are heading into a location that is largely uninhabited, you are definitely going to need a trail guide.  This one offers a good overview of what the Oak Ridges Moraine is, trail information, and addresses for local museums.

The gem of this is its several hiking maps.  Complete with topographical elevation lines, this is a must have for entering the Moraine on foot.  My copy has seven maps.  One is a "key map" that shows the whole moraine, and the other six are very easy to read maps of different areas.  Good caveats are also included; don't go alone, it's wet in spring, stay on the trails so you don't get charged with trespassing.

Already-discovered species who live here include the red tail hawk, red shouldered hawk, brook trout and bluebirds.  Other, less well documented species are also known to live there.  While not numerous, sasquatch sightings are ongoing, and what's called the Markham Monster" has been seen at least twice.  Both are upright, larger than human, and probably living off the bounty of the natural environment.  Reports of a hooved being on a native reserve were also happening here.

The moraine is basically surrounded by residences.    This makes fieldwork a little difficult.  First, you're not allowed to camp on the moraine, so you'll have to find something nearby or ask a resident if you can stay overnight in their back yard. Second, humans mean garbage, so it may be tempting for these creatures to forage in that source.  This makes those a little more strongly influenced by humanity and therefore may change behavior significantly.  Finally, it is a popular place.  You are likely to come across many hikers, or they you, which can make fieldwork challenging.

I picked up this book on a whim, and I am glad I did.  I recommend anyone doing fieldwork find a trail guide for the area.  You will learn more than just where the trails are.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Cashing in on Bigfoot

There seems to be an ever-increasing stream of "products" in relation to Sasquatch.  The many "reality" TV shows are just the tip of the iceberg.  Although I am particularly fond of "merch" and "bling" I am disheartened by how it is presented and used.
Now, if I had an extra $45 (USD) just lying around, I'd buy this.  And I'd wear it.  It's a quality item.  But to have that extra means I would have already funded my top-notch field kit, paid off the books I've purchased, explored several continents in the field and invested in good insurance.
One of the issues that cause us to not be able to really define what beings like this are, is the misdirection of funds.  If you are lucky enough to have money, and you are really interested in research, this shirt isn't going to further your work.  It won't get dna testing done.  It won't  teach you anything about  zoology, etc.  It won't give you better respect (and thereby get you possible outside funding and exposure).  It will only make you look good.

Hypothetically, let's say you have $100 for your research right now.   This cash would be much better spent on gloves or evidence collection items.  It might pay for a weekend camping space or permit to go into the field.  It might buy you an online course in linguistics so you can qualitatively decipher what folks are saying are Sasquatch communications.  Every single one of those items helps further your study, and possibly bring the breakthrough we are all hoping for.

With the reality TV like "Finding Bigfoot" or "Mountain Monsters" getting income from advertising and often their own merchandise, they could be doing more.  They could be highlighting really good fieldwork.  They could be funding tests for all researchers.  They could be incorporating the process of learning how to do this sort of research.  Instead, they are simply entertaining and sucking the less experienced right in to a false sense of how research works.

That false sense is not only not helpful but also potentially damaging.  Where are the segments on how they got permission to be where they are?  Where is the full disclosure of everything they found, even if it was not helpful?  Where is the discussion on how to use the equipment normal people can afford instead of a fancy FLIR?

I have worked on these sorts of shows, both in front of the camera and as a consultant.  I can honestly say they are some of the most offensive people to work with.  I've also worked extensively with ghost research shows and movies and I find them to be much more honest.  In some cases, they even donate their equipment to a "real" researcher when they are done filming.  Wouldn't it be great if  Crypto shows would support actual research?  Wouldn't it be great if the "stars" actually knew what they were doing?

I acknowledge that the shows have put paranormal research of all kinds in the spotlight, and that is probably a good thing.  Those of us from the original "Unsolved Mysteries" generation are aging and the fresh faces and brains are much needed.  How do you vet them though?  Do you choose someone who can tell you all about Matt Moneymaker and nothing about the Yeti? Or do you choose the university student majoring in Anthropology?  That student may have absolutely no experience and will already be more knowledgeable  than the TV people.

I recently was invited to join a group online of people who do serious research on cryptids of various kinds.  The person who invited me was a new online friend and seemed to be very realistically interested in the study.  I was still cautious though, because I don't want to be part of groups that are fans rather than researchers.  There's nothing wrong with being a fan, so long as you make it clear that you are not a researcher.  I just don't have the time to be their source of answers to the most basic things.  I also no longer have the patience to listen to one more skeptic whine about how we've found no bodies.  

MeterTo HT-18 Handheld Digital 3.2 inch Color Screen Thermographic Camera Infrared Thermal Imager Imaging Camera with Resolution 220x160-20 to 300°CFortunately, this new group is truly professional.  I don't always agree with their opinions and methodology, but I do respect them.  They are at least making a real effort.  One member is saving for a FLIR camera.  A FLIR E53-24 Advanced Thermal Camera with 240 x 180 IR Resolution, Meterlink Ready, MSX Image Enhancement and 24 Degree Lens kit runs about $6500 Canadian dollars. It's a grand toy, but is not necessary.  A perfectly good infrared handheld camera can be found for $600, and a very basic model can be purchased for use with your smart phone for about $250.  There is no reason to over commit financially on a study of something you can't even prove exists.  Plus, that hoodie may keep you warm in your fieldwork, but these will help you a whole lot more.

Related Links:

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Anybody Home?

I've been away too long. 

With huge thanks to Jon Downes, I am returning to CFZ-Canada.  The last few years have been challenging to say the least, but things are turning around and I am once again doing active research, although my field work will still be minimal due to physical restraints.

Not much is happening in Canada these days as far as Cryptids are concerned.  I am always open to reports and requests for information.  Just comment or email me at 

I'm also actively looking for someone to pass along my books and tools to and mentor in the field.  I'd prefer it to be someone between 20 and 40, but will certainly consider others.  And if you are female you get extra points!  Women in Cryptozoology are fairly rare.  That may be my next article actually.

At any rate, it feels good to be thinking again.  I hope I can make you think about a few things as well.


Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Is Bigfoot Possibly an Alien Entity?

IS BIGFOOT POSSIBLY AN ALIEN ENTITY? By Dr.Franklin Ruehl  (Originally published in the Huffington Post.  Re-posted here by permission of the author, with our deepest thanks.)

Rather than being a missing link between man and the apes, Bigfoot ,may possibly be an alien entity. This intriguing possibility is derived from evidence in several solid UFO cases.

The earliest clues date back to 1888, when a cattleman described an encounter with friendly Indians in Humboldt County, California. They led him to a cave where he saw a hefty humanoid creature covered in long, shiny black hair, with no neck, sitting cross-legged. 

One Indian told him three of these "Crazy Bears" had been cast out of a small moon that dropped from the sky ard landed.The "moon" then ascended back into the air. So it's highly likely the "Crazy Bears" were really Bigfoots, and the "moon," a spacecraft.

Now fast-forward almost 100 years to 1973...and Mrs. Reafa Heitfield. She and her l3-year-old son were sleeping in a trailer in Cincinnati, Ohio onthe moming of Odober 2L. Reafa arose at 2;30 a.m. to quench her thirst, and noticed strange lights in the adjoining parking lot. Looking out the window, her attention was drawn, in particular, to an inexplicable cone of light, shaped like a huge bubble umbrella - about seven feet in diameter. 

Nearby she spotted a grayish, ape-like ereature with a large, downward angled snout, no neck and a sizable waist.Moving slowly, it then entered into the light. About five minutes later, both apeman and UFO disappeared. 

Another dramatic incident occurred a few days later on October 25, 1973. A group of farmers in Fayette County, Pennsylvania caught sight of a dome-shaped UFO that was brightly lit and about 100 feet in diameter. As the locals drove toward it, they saw a pair of gargantuan creatures covered with thick, matted hair, luminescent green eyes and long arms that dangled below their knees.

A farmer's son fired a gun shot at the creatures, one of which raised its right hand in the air. At that very moment, the UFO disappeared. Then, the two Bigfoots escaped into the woods and were never seen again.

Dairy farmer William Bosak of Frederic, Wisconsin was returning from a co-op meeting about 10:30 p.m. on December 9, 1974, when he nearly slammed into a globular UFO on the road in front of him, its bottom half enshrouded in fog. 

Inside the visible transparent dome was a six-foot-tall ape-like creature with reddish-brown fur covering its body (except for the face) and distinctive pointed ears. It appeared to be operating a control panel. As Bosak passed by, the object suddenly arose and disappeared. 

In August,1976, after a series of UFO sightings around Rutland, Brifish Columbia, Canada, several men and their children saw a hairy ape-like entity, six to seven feet tall roaming about a mountainside. They also found a clump of hairthat was sent to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for identification. Laboratory analysis confirmed it was primate hair, But, significantly, it could not be matched to any known species on earth! 

Perhaps the Bigfoot creatures are UFO pilots, landing on earth for exploratory purposes. Or, conceivably, higher level ETs are leaving behind some specimens as "guinea pigs" to test our environment for longs-term survival. Or, possibly,these Bigfoots are criminal entities being deposited on Earth as a form of cosmic deportation!

Dr. Ruehl holds a Ph.D. in physics from UCLA. His cable TV show, Mysteries From Beyond the Other Dominion, was 1 of the 4 original series to premiere on the SCI-FI CHANNEL when it was launched. He has been a regular on "A Current Affair"(2005), "9 On The Town"(with a UFO segment), "Strange Universe," "Weird TV," and "Ancient Aliens"(on the History Channel) and co-hosts a radio program on Blog Talk Radio,"Hypergalactic Enigmas."

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Trying to play nice

My momma always told me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then to just say nothing at all.  Silence on this blog of late is closely related to that.

I’m frustrated.  Between the completely ridiculous television shows and the lack of reports, things are maddening at CFZ Canada.  Let’s face it, Sasquatch sightings in BC are no longer breaking news.  One of the positives that “reality” tv has done both for Cryptozoology and ghost research is to normalize it.  The general populous no longer sees those of us who research as complete nutjobs.  Certainly most academia and skeptics still do, but the general public has become used to us.

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a friend and someone nearby happened to overhear.  He commented that he was pretty sure his dad’s Ontario farm had some Bigfoot activity.  I asked who he reported it to and he said nobody—that they see footprints all the time so it isn’t a big deal.

WHAT? Not a big deal? Only the holy grail of researchers—a private land, as yet unsearched, with ongoing activity! Rest assured, I secured the address and permission to visit when I can.  Canadian weather scares me more than a bigfoot encounter so I’ll wait until spring.

In the meantime, the “boring” side of the research continues.  I’m still reading and learning about native traditions to try to understand the sighting of a hooved man on a nearby reservation.  I’m still scouring the internet for new, worthy reports on all sorts of creatures.  I’m still networking with other credible seekers so that we can share ideas and information. I’m still learning about the Far North project by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and will devote a whole post to that soon.

What I’m not doing, though, is buying “Gone ‘Squatchin’ “ t shirts and milling about the woods in the dark with a large group of friends.  I’m not taking a tv crew to a mountain to recreate what someone said they saw.  I’m not pouring money into projects designed more for notoriety than for evidence collection.  I’m not regurgitating previous books under new names to fund any memorabilia projects.

Eight months a year I am on the road.  Part of that time is spent speaking and teaching at various conferences and part of that time is in the field.  Researching the unknown is my full time job—one that doesn’t net me enough to live on, but that I dearly love. It probably would be easier to make some profound but untrue statement and get “famous”.  It probably would be more financially worthwhile to do some more TV.  Like most of you, though, I didn’t sign up for this to be rich or famous.  I do it because I love the work. I love the challenge.  I love the learning.

I appreciate you all who are boots on the ground and test tubes and library research.  You are cryptozoologists.  You are the ones who will find the answers.  You are my heroes.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Searching for Sasquatch

Alberta Sasquatch researcher Aaron Arcand wants to be a reality star.  On February 15th, 2014, he  pitched his idea for a reality show to “Dragon’s Den”, a reality show itself, that gives enterpreneurs a chance to get awarded funding for their projects.   Episodes of Dragons' Den air on CBC, and  you can watch full episodes online or download Dragons' Den from iTunes.  Judges are Canadian business moguls who have the cash and the know-how to make the projects happen.  Dragons' Den originated in Japan and versions are now airing in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, The Netherlands, Finland, in the Middle East and of course in Canada.

Two big questions immediately come to mine.  First, do we need another Sasquatch reality show?  Arcand proposes one location, and one researcher who spends six months there searching for Sasquatch.  The one location idea is unique—most reality TV takes crews to various locations with few good results.  Those of us who have been in the field know all too well that brief visits, even to locations known to have multiple sightings, can yield very little.  There might be some merit to spending an extended amount of time in one place.  Certainly it would give good opportunity to collect large amounts of data.  He proposes that he takes this on alone, which is problematic in that he would need someone to help with cameras and audio.  His proposed budget is $100,000 which seems excessive for a one man camping experience.  The audition in February was effective;  he has been invited to Toronto on April 1 to convince the judges his idea is worth airing on the TV show.

The other question is, who is Aaron Arcand?  Mr. Arcand is an  owner and operator of a fire and safety services company in Edmonton, Alberta.  His LinkedIn profile says he works for A-Tech Fire and Safety Services, but a quick look at the Yellow Pages doesn’t show any such place in Alberta.  He does pop up on other internet sites, including an entertaining one called  Here Arcand is quoted by blogger Robert Lindsay on January 17 responding to rather comical accusations posted online by anonymous surfers:

 Anonymous comment:  Saw a hot looking Bigfoot babe near the dump at the Small Boys Camp in Alberta. He named her Bo after Bo Derek. Apparently she was a real cutie.
 Arcand Response: Yes, while changing a flat tire on the road near the Small Boys Dump I saw a young female Sasquatch. If there is such a thing as a hot Sasquatch, she was it. I tell ya, shave her down, and you would be looking at the body of a sexy 18 year old. Firm titties and all. They did not even bounce as she ran off into the woods. So yes, I named her Bo after Bo Derek.

It looks like the proposed new show is in the same quality as those already available.

Arcand can be found on Facebook if you’d like to be friends.