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Episode Notes for
What the Bigfoot market will bear

IN THE FORESTS OF PENNSYLVANIA, on a dark September night, a trail-cam took a series of controversial pictures. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) still claims they show a juvenile Bigfoot. Skeptics claim the photos show a bear. Join the hosts of MonsterTalk as they discuss Bigfoot photos, fair-use and the economics of unusual photos.

Read the BFRO’s analysis of the “Jacobs Creature” photos.

All Bushnell Cameras have a delay set to 30 seconds. For details on the trail cam itself, you can read the manual at Bushnell’s website. According to the manual, “Image Delay—Time elapsed between photos while events are sensed and recorded. This is fixed at 30 second intervals in the Trail Sentry”

According to the BFRO, “The two images at the top of the page [20:32:05 and 20:32:41] are the only two images of the unidentified animal. The camera obtained other photos that same night, and others earlier that same month. Some of those images are shown below, along with some scale images of the same tree in daylight.”

Blake Smith’s Analysis of the Photos

At 20:02:16 photo of mother bear and one cub taken. The BFRO website labels this photo as “More of the Bear Cubs” but size analysis shows that the bear closest to the tree is the same size as the so-called “Jacobs Creature.” Of some interest, if you compare the size of the bear in the foreground to the cubs taken at 20:04:23 (below) you will see that the animal in the foreground also has to be an adult bear, not a cub! I didn’t notice this until preparing the notes for this episode.

Trail Cam photo (right) taken by Rick Jacobs. Additional Analysis material (left) by Blake Smith. Copyright 2007 Rick Jacobs. Click image to enlarge.

At 20:02:55 the adult bear and two cubs are photographed. According to the BFRO this next photo shows “The ‘Mama Bear’ image, showing “the bear cubs huddling around the mineral lick with a larger bear—likely the mother of the cubs.” They point out that in this color photo, the adult bear does not look mangy. That may be a result of the differences in the night-vision shots vs. the color/flash shots. The adult bear appears to be facing down the hill, away from the salt-lick and cubs. I’ve inset a photo of a similarly posed healthy bear to give an estimate of the pose.

Trail Cam photo (right) taken by Rick Jacobs. Additional Analysis material (left) by Blake Smith. Copyright 2007 Rick Jacobs. Click image to enlarge.

At 20:04:23 this is the next photo we’ve been provided in the series. Why didn’t the adult bear and cubs trigger any more photos in the intervening minute and a half? Observe that the salt-lick is still upright in this photo. The photo shows two cubs at play. Note how much smaller the cub closer to the tree is compared to the adult bear in 20:02:16. The so-called Jacobs Creature is the same size as the creature the BFRO is calling the Mama Bear. (Update: Note the cub in the foreground—it is tiny compared to what the BFRO have been calling “more of the cubs” but which now appears to show two adult-sized bears in the 20:02:16 photo.)

Trail Cam photo (right) taken by Rick Jacobs. Additional Analysis material (left) by Blake Smith. Copyright 2007 Rick Jacobs. Click image to enlarge.

At 20:32:05 nearly a half an hour has gone by and the salt-lick has been tipped over. Are there no photos existing between these two time-stamps from a camera that takes photos every 30 seconds when motion is sensed? 20:32:05 is the first photo of the two “Jacobs Creature” photos. Several bear biologists agree that while this is a strange looking creature, it is likely an adult bear with mange. This makes the bear look thin due to loss of its thick coat, plus potentially emaciated due to side-effects of the mite infestation. It is likely the same adult bear from 20:02:16—but the other photos which show her do not allow the level of detail needed to observe emaciation; too much of her is hidden in the dark.

Trail Cam photo (right) taken by Rick Jacobs. Additional Analysis material (left) by Blake Smith. Copyright 2007 Rick Jacobs. Click image to enlarge.

At 20:32:41 we have the second photo of the “Jacobs Creature.” In the image below I’ve outlined what I think the photo really shows: an adult bear with a cub attempting to nurse underneath it. Note that if this pose is correct, it corresponds to the adult bear in size and orientation from the 20:02:16 photo almost exactly.

Trail Cam photo (right) taken by Rick Jacobs. Additional Analysis material (left) by Blake Smith. Copyright 2007 Rick Jacobs. Click image to enlarge.

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The views expressed on this program are not necessarily the views of the Skeptics Society or Skeptic magazine.

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