Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | May 15, 2009

Question about cryptids found on reservations

User “Nick” asks this wonderful and interesting question which I now pass on to the readers:

“One reoccuring concern that’s arisen with research I’ve been conducting pertains to jurisdiction with Native American reservations. The area I work on has a small reservation within a larger one. Suppose I find a specimen, who would have rights to it -the Tribe or the federal government since all Reservations are legally “trust” lands. Could an animal be regarded as “cultural” property for a recognized tribe?”

Does anyone have any information or discussion points to help answer “Nick’s” question?

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | April 13, 2009

We are back to blogging!

Thank you for your patience during our brief hiatus while we moved.  I wanted to let everyone know that we are back with our computers set up and blogging can commence again!

Thanks for reading!


A lot of cryptozoology sites point to the Bigfoot statute enacted by Skamania County Washington in 1969. It was definitely important as one of the first legal protections for Bigfoot in the United States.

But did you know it was repealed and amended in 1984?

According to the text of the 1984 ordinance, the 1969 ordinance “deemed the slaying of such creature to be a felony (punishable by 5 years in prison) and may have exceeded the jurisdictional authority of that Board of County Commissioners…”

The later ordinance reduced the fine and jail time to “gross misdemeanor” status with lesser jail time and fines. However, it does put in an important exception. If the animal is found to be humanoid, the person who killed the Bigfoot will be tried for homicide.

On a side note, if Bigfoot is found to be anthropoid, according to the ordinance, the gross misdemeanor charge will stand. It’s possible with Congress currently considering the Great Ape Protection Act this portion may be overturned by federal law in the near future.

(See for the text of the 1984 ordinance).

Both versions of the law state that “spoor” evidence (e.g. finding actual evidence of the animal’s existence, such as tracks and droppings) points to the actual existence of the creature.

Interestingly, the more recent ordinance sets up all of Skamania as a “Sasquatch Refuge.” The reason – Bigfoot is an “endangered species” in Skamania County.

“Endangered” has become a catch-phrase in the species protection arena. What does it mean here? Well, the way the ordinance is written, Skamania does not claim Bigfoot is endangered overall, just within its own county lines.

This can be analogized to the controversy over moose-hunting about a decade ago in the northeast. Some northeastern states allowed a moose-hunt season. Moose advocates argued that moose populations were endangered in some of those states – the numbers were low. Hunting advocates countered that the moose migrated across state boundaries and could be hunted when they crossed, even if that meant lesser populations in the “endangered” states when they migrated back.

My questions to you:

Is the misdemeanor penalty strong enough when you consider similar offenses for species protected under local, state and national endangered species laws?

If a species is endangered in one locale but not another, is a local ordinance strong enough? What about for migratory populations?

Is it possible Bigfoot populations migrate, perhaps following food sources? How should this affect their endangered status or protection?

Should lack of evidence (e.g. Bigfoot population numbers) be taken as definitive evidence of endangerment, or should there be stronger requirements for listing a species?

For more information:

Sasquatch Information Society has the ordinance on line at:

For strength of protection comparison, see the Skamania County Code:

Last summer, Spanish Parliament’s environmental committee adopted a resolution that gave great apes “the right to life, freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture.” According to an article in Discover, the resolution also protects them from “harmful research practices and exploitation for profit, such as use in films, commercials, and circuses.”

Could this be a significant societal step toward future Bigfoot protection if or when DNA evidence is collected to suggest its taxonomy?

More and more countries are treating higher mammals as more human than animal. But unlike Spain’s “freedom from arbitrary captivity,” in India, “monkey jails” have been established for monkeys that steal, apparently a rapidly growing problem there.

But other countries have moved in a more positive direction. In Great Britain and New Zealand experimentation on greater apes is already illegal, the Great Ape Protection Act is pending in the United States Congress, and other countries have begun to look more closely into experimentation on smaller monkeys, even ordering a stop to unusual or unnecessary experiments.

Spain’s resolution is particularly important as it is the first national recognition of animal legal rights. But all these regulations show that governments are acknowledging the sentience and decision-making power of higher non-human animals.

Some questions these news tidbits bring to my mind:

Does classification as an ape provide more protection than as an endangered or protected species? The current laws and proposed laws suggest they would.

Can Bigfoot be presumed a “Great Ape” without DNA evidence? Is it possible Bigfoot is related to humans or simply a new species of bear? How does the classification and lack of taxonomical evidence affect legal protection?

Laws take time to both make and overturn. If laws are made now based on current evidence, and later DNA evidence suggests that Bigfoot is either a greater or lesser species than his current classification, what are the ramifications?

What do you think?

For more information about this important topic:

“Spain Gives Great Apes Legal Rights:

“Great Apes Have Right to Life and Liberty, Spain Says,”

Great Ape Project—an organization that argues for legal rights of “non-human hominids,”

The Humane Society’s page on the Great Ape Protection Act,

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | April 2, 2009

The Storsjö Monster: Protected, Then Not

There is a very interesting article about how the Swedish government approached the Scottish government for advice on how to protect Sweden’s Storsjö Lake Monster.  Wanting to create something similar to Scotland’s protection of the Loch Ness Monster, conversations between the governments, dubbed the Whitehall exchanges in the referenced article, took place in 1985.

“For Whitehall, protecting Nessie wasn’t such a monstrous idea,”

So why did dedication to protecting the creature waiver?

A 2005 animal rights newsletter discusses Sweden’s repeal of Storsjö Lake Monster protection – and suggests the decision leaves the cryptid open to hunting season.

The Swedish regional council, while not denying the creature’s existence, decided to require scientific proof in order for it to have a protected or “endangered” status.

“Hunting Season Opens on Lake Monster,”

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | April 1, 2009

Sea Serpent Protection in the U.S.

There are at least three state laws directed at protecting local sea monsters. Does this mean they exist? It may mean there is enough evidence to suggest they do — or at least not enough evidence to prove they do not. So these statutes are meant to protect them and their habitats….just in case.Critics say that cryptid protection statutes are just a way to draw tourist dollars. Yet, these places also have long histories of repeated sightings. What do you think?

Arkansas – White River Monster Protection

In 1973 state Senator Robert Harvey introduced a bill to help protect “Whitey” the White River Monster, whose initial sightings date back to the early twentieth century. Arkansas passed a resolution creating the White River Monster Refuge and making it illegal to “molest, kill, trample, or harm the White River Monster while he is in the retreat.”

Vermont and New York – Champ

Champ sightings started in the Lake Champlain region in the early nineteenth century and have continued to the present day. Some eyewitnesses have reported baby Champs over the past couple decades, suggesting there may even be a breeding population of sea monsters.

In 1982, Vermont’s House of Representatives passed a resolution protecting Champ “from any willful act resulting in death, injury or harassment.” Also in 1982, New York’s State Assembly and Senate both passed resolutions protecting Champ. I have read multiple online posts, but not been able to verify, that Port Henry, New York declared their port waters a Champ “safe haven.” Can anyone verify the latter?

What do you think?

More on Cryptid Protection:

Mental Floss Blog:


More on the White River Monster

The Ghosts of Arkansas:

The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture: White River Monster:

More on Champ

The Lake Champlain Land Trust:

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | March 29, 2009

Cop Killer Sees Bigfoot at Barbecue


Ricky Ray Malone was convicted of first degree murder in Oklahoma and sentenced to death. The day after Christmas 2003, he shot patrol Officer Nikky J. Green to death when the officer pulled him over in a car to arrest him for manufacturing methamphetamines. In 2007 he appealed his conviction.

During Malone’s initial trial, the jury was wrongly instructed on the defense of voluntary intoxication. The state asserted that the mistake was harmless because the evidence clearly showed that defendant “knew what he was doing and deliberately chose to shoot and kill the victim.”

So, how about this:

Part of Malone’s case hinged on whether he knew what he was doing or was too impaired to know.

So consider this note in the case:

“Malone described how methamphetamine made him moody and paranoid and that he sometimes heard voices and thought he saw things that weren’t there–like when he would “hear” people in his attic and when he “saw Bigfoot” while he was out cooking at the lake.”

Was hearing or seeing voices and Bigfoot an effect of the drugs? Is it possible that he heard ghosts and saw Bigfoot (reasonable doubt)? Does it change your mind about whether he knew what he was doing when he pulled the trigger on the officer? Does it matter since a death resulted?


Malone’s conviction was upheld, but his sentence was reversed and remanded to district court for resentencing.

Trooper Green, age 35 when he passed, is survived by a wife and three daughters.

Would you like more information?

The text of this case is available at 2007 OK CR 34; 168 P.3d 185; 2007 Okla. Crim. App. LEXIS 33

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol Memorial Page:

Newsday article, “When meth hits home:”,0,326467.story?coll=ny-health-big-pix

What do you think?

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | March 27, 2009

Washington Supreme Court Judges Debate Sasquatch Analogy

Case Issue:

The court was asked to determine whether the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board was correct in finding that Ferry County was noncompliant with the state’s Growth Management Act.

After reviewing evidence, the Board decided that Ferry County failed to consider the “best available science” when it determined to list only two species as endangered, threatened, or sensitive in its critical areas ordinance.

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision.

Judge Johnson’s Dissent:

During the text of his dissenting opinion, Judge Johnson analogizes this case’s issue to that of Sasquatch protection:

“The result is analogous to requiring designation of critical habitat for the sasquatch, a species which the county and its biologist expert could not prove is not present. Repeated reports of sasquatch sightings do not, in my view, constitute “best available science” nor require counties to hire expensive experts to disprove its presence. As further noted below, this case is more extreme. Unlike the sasquatch, several of these supposed endangered species have no reported sightings in Ferry County.”

Judge Chambers Retort on the Sasquatch dissent:

Judge Chambers concurred with the majority opinion, but doesn’t neglect to comment on the dissent’s recognition of Bigfoot when he writes:

“I am bemused by my learned colleague’s knowledge of “[r]epeated reports of sasquatch sightings.”

Would you like more information?

The text of this case is available at 155 Wn.2d 824; 123 P.3d 102; 2005 Wash. LEXIS 922

“THE UNCERTAIN STATUS OF THE SASQUATCH OR BIGFOOT IN WESTERN NORTH AMERICA” abstract (John A. Bindernagel. Ursus Environmental Consultants) about why the study of Sasquatch and its critical habitat should be taken seriously can be viewed here:

Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearing Board website:

Washington Growth Management Act:

Ferry County website:

What do you think?

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | March 26, 2009

April 1982: Cryptozoologists’ Courtroom Copyright Confrontation

Case Issue:

Canadian-based Sasquatch researcher Rene Dahinden sued wildlife conservationist and fellow Bigfoot researcher Peter Byrne in 1982 for copyright infringement (among other charges not addressed in this article).


In 1973, Dahinden wrote and published a book named Sasquatch. The book chronicles Dahinden’s search for Bigfoot and compiles the data and evidence he collected. It’s said that Dahinden never actually saw a Bigfoot, yet he devoted the majority of his life studying it.

Within Sasquatch, Dahinden included two Russian reports that analyze the Patterson-Gimlin film. The film was taken in Bluff Creek, California in 1967 and appears to record a Sasquatch looking at the camera and walking away. Some Bigfoot advocates and cryptozoologists perceive this film as the only confirmed visual evidence of Bigfoot’s existence. Others see the film as a hoax, and much research, discussion, and analysis over the years has been directed at discerning the validity of this film. A photograph from the film is also included in Dahinden’s book.

It was these Russian reports and the photo from the film that Dahinden claimed Byrne infringed.


Peter Byrne (et al) was granted summary judgment on the claim of copyright infringement because, while Dahinden had compiled and used these items in his book, the copyright for the material remained with the original authors of the reports and film. The copyrights had not been officially transferred to Dahinden at the time of this case. It is only the copyright holder (in this case the author) that could have sued for infringement.

Would you like more information?

The text of this case is available at 1982 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10228; 218 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 317; Copy. L. Rep. (CCH) P25,564

Rene Dehinden passed away in 2001. Lauren Coleman’s “Rene Dahinden Remembered” can be viewed here:

For more information about Peter Byrne’s wildlife conservation work with the International Wildlife Conservation Society see

What do you think?

Posted by: Carolyn Fenzl | March 26, 2009

Hello world!

Welcome to Crypto Law!

In what ways are cryptozoologists and cryptids affected by legal issues?  This blog will look at some of the current and past issues that the field of cryptozoology faces, and the ways in which today’s laws and policies impact our field of study.

This may include: Civil Law, Criminal Law, Species Protection, Hunting & Trapping, International Law, Contract Law, Fraud & Theft, Copyright, Patent, and Trademarks, Constitutional Law, Environmental Law, Land Use Law, and more…

Perhaps you have a question or topic on your mind.  Did you encounter a legal issue while pursuing your crypto-hobby, investigation, research, or study? This is your place to ask, comment, vent, and discuss!


****This blog is NOT meant to be taken as legal advise.  Rather it is a place for legal and policy issues affecting the field of cryptozoology to be discussed, commented on, debated, and examined.  Please do not construe any post by an author, guest, or commentor as legal advice.