Posted by: cryptocarolyn | April 7, 2009

The Skamania Sasquatch Ordinance: Penalties, Refuge, Homicide, and Migration

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But did you know it was repealed and amended in 1984?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 http://www.bigfootinfo.org/articles/article.php?id=6 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: http://www.bigfootinfo.org/articles/article.php?id=6

For strength of protection comparison, see the Skamania County Code: http://www.skamaniacounty.org/bpc/html/maintoc.htm

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