By Derek Liebig
Sasquatch may be protected by law in Whitehall, but don’t expect similar legislation to be approved in Granville.
Despite an unprecedented number of sightings and a recent announcement that Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” plans to conduct investigation in Whitehall, Supervisor Matt Hicks said he does not see a need to extend any further protections to the hairy, hominid-like creature.
“The protection of animals in New York is handled by the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) and I don’t think it is necessary or appropriate for the town to consider a law,” Hicks said.
In 2004, the Town of Whitehall passed a resolution prohibiting anyone from hunting Bigfoot.
Hicks said passage of a similar law in Granville is not being considered because state law already covers it.
He cited a 2012 letter from the DEC in which the agency rejected calls for the state to develop regulations banning the hunting of Bigfoot.
Those requests were made by Peter Wiemer, founder of the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo.
In its initial response to Wiemer, the DEC said that Bigfoot was not covered by the state’s hunting regulations because the agency did not recognize Bigfoot’s existence.
But the agency went on to say that doesn’t mean the creature isn’t without protections.
“Because it is not addressed there is no open season on Big Foot and they may not be taken,” DEC spokesman Mark Kandel wrote to Wiemer in an email posted on bigfootencounters.com. “We are confident that the current laws and regulations afford adequate protection for Big Foot if one were to be found in New York.”
The letter said residents were free to pursue Bigfoot for the purpose of proving his existence so long as they did not harm him or violate any other laws.
“I think the state is pretty clear on this,” Hicks said. “For us to consider a law would be a waste of resources.”
Hicks said that town officials are more concerned with fixing the town’s roads following a long winter that created many potholes and frost heaves.
There have been a rash of Bigfoot sightings in Whitehall this winter.
Cryptozoologists believe that the snowy, cold weather has driven the local Bigfoot population further afield in search of food.
Several business owners and community members in Whitehall have reported seeing the creature rummaging through garbage cans in the village.
Because of Whitehall’s proximity to Granville, there are some that fear it’s only a matter of time before the creature makes its way to the colored Slate Capital of the World.
Although he said he remains skeptical that the creature will venture all the way to Granville, Bob Schoonmaker, owner of Schoony’s Market in North Granville, said he has taken measures to secure the trash receptacles at his store and has reinforced the store’s security measures in case Bigfoot tries to get its hands on one of his tasty pizzas.
“Better safe the sorry,” Schoonmaker said.
Hicks is urging local residents, especially those who live in North Granville near the Hampton-Whitehall border, to lock their garbage cans in the basement, at least until spring weather returns.
“People should take the same precautions they would take to protect their property from bears,” he said.
Although most experts believe Bigfoot is an omnivore and therefore eats plants and animals, they said small family pets should be safe.
They did, however, caution that should someone see Bigfoot they should give the creature it space.
Although it’s not aggressive—there has never been a documented Bigfoot attack—it is quite shy and frightens easily.