We were all caught off guard when the headline read, "FBI Releases Bigfoot File". Most had no idea that any "official" government investigation had ever been done. We all agreed that the FBI was the least likely, in our minds, to have taken on this task.
It should be no surprise, however. All reports that come into the police or ranger stations are documented. If they are current sightings, someone is dispatched to the location to check it out. That's the way law enforcement works. Even if they think you are nuts, they still have to follow up. Following up leaves a file.
Back to the FBI.
The FBI began collecting information for the file in 1976. Earlier this year (2019) they released 22 pages from this file. Peter Byrne, director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition of Oregon back then, convinced the agency to help in an investigation of “15 hairs attached to a tiny piece of skin”. This was the most compelling evidence at that time.
Involving the FBI, and their agreement to be involved, is a really big deal. Unlike local enforcement agencies, this organization has resources worldwide and its conclusions are often a huge part of new policies of all kinds.
In one of his letters, Byrne entreated the agency, “Please understand that our research here is serious. That this is a serious question that needs answering.”
We can imagine the grins of these seasoned investigators when this was initially proposed. While I admire Byrne for initiating and following up on this project, I would love to meet the agent who took him seriously. How brave this guy must be to stand up to the ridicule and fight for acceptance of this bigfoot challenge.
The FBI has a "scientific and technical services division" and at the time Jay Cochran Jr. was the assistant director. “The FBI Laboratory conducts investigations primarily of physical evidence for law enforcement agencies in connection with criminal investigations,” he wrote. “Occasionally, on a case-by-case basis, in the interest of research and scientific inquiry, we make exceptions to this policy. With this understanding, we will examine the hairs and tissue mentioned in your letter.” This is an amazing victory for all of us who work in unusual research fields.
Unfortunately, the lab testing didn't help our cause. The 15 hairs were tested in the FBI lab and found to be from a deer. The results, and hair samples, were returned to Byrne in 1977. Read the 22 page FBI file here.
Many have never heard of Peter C. Byrne, but to real Sasquatch researchers his story is well known. Born in Ireland, his fascination with the big guy began with stories of the Yeti in the Himalayas that his father often told him. Over the course of his life he has trekked those mountains, the Rockies, and the west coast of the US. Peter designed and led the Nepal Himalaya project financed by everyone's hero Tom Slick in 1957 through 1959. Findings he was part of include two sets of Yeti footprints and the paradoxical Yeti scalp and the mysterious Yeti hand in a temple at the village of Pangboche.
Near the end of the project, Mr. Slick brought Mr.Byrne to Texas to discuss investigating the north american west coast. He set up a base of operations in northern California in early 1960, and the search continued for two and a half years. In October, 1962 Tom Slick died in the crash of a small airplane. Funding stopped, so Byrne returned to Nepal where he continued to research until 1994.
New backer David Ransburg, from Peoria, Illinois, convinced Byrne to come back to the Pacific Northwest. Bigfoot Research Project 111 lasted five years but none of the creatures were found. Nevertheless the experience convinced Peter of the high probability of a small group of the mysterious primates living and surviving in the Pacific Northwest. His service to the study is just as heroic as his service with the RAF in World War Two.
Peter Byrne is, thankfully, still with us well into his 90's. Whe the FBI files were released June 5, 2019, Byrne claimed it is the first time he saw the results of the FBI testing. When the results came in decades previously, Byrne was in the field and a colleague was supposed to forward the results to him. I find it highly unlikely that at some point in those ensuing forty-plus years Byrne forgot and never asked about them. The popular theory is that he just figured the FBI was ignoring the request.
In the mid-1970s, an erroneous entry in an Army Corps of Engineers atlas sparked rumors that the FBI had previously analyzed "alleged sasquatch hair samples" and found that "no such hair exists on any human or presently-known animal for which such data are available." Cochrane also noted that since the Washington Environmental Atlas was published in 1975, more requests to the FBI for bigfoot evidence spiked. Interestingly, in the letter from The Academy of Applied Science in Boston, Massachusetts, the FBI Special Agent's name is redacted.
Peter C. Byrne is the last remaining person of the "Four Horsemen of Sasquatchery". Now 93, he lives in rural Oregon and continues to research.