Do you think it's OK to shoot a unicorn?
Should hunters be allowed to bag dragons? And what’s the creel limit on Loch Ness monsters?
These questions might seem silly, but there are people who take them seriously.
And that may include certain wildlife officials in that state of New York — at least when it comes to matters related to Bigfoot.
I received an email the other day from someone named Peter Wiemer, who identifies himself as the director of the Chautauqua Lake Bigfoot Expo. Wiemer is apparently concerned that someone may shoot a Bigfoot in New York, perhaps even in his home base of Chautauqua County.
Wiemer’s worries seem to stem from a $10 million bounty recently offered by SpikeTV for proof of Bigfoot’s existence. Obviously, the only real way to document a Bigfoot is to produce one, dead or alive.
So SpikeTV’s bounty prompted Wiemer to write to wildlife officials in his home state, asking for an explanation of Bigfoot’s status in terms of protection.
Earlier this year, Wiemer received a letter from Mark Kandel, a regional wildlife manager with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
Kandel noted in his letter that New York has no official record of Bigfoots (or is it Bigfeet?) in the state and therefore regulations do not directly address the animal.
However, Kandel added: “Because it is not addressed there is no open season on Bigfoot and they may not be taken. We are confident that the current laws and regulations afford adequate protection for Bigfoot if one were to be found in N.Y.
“Under the current laws and regulations you and others are free to pursue Bigfoot for the purpose of documenting their existence provided none are harmed and you abide by the laws and regulations pertaining to trespass on private property and use of public lands.”
But this statement did not satisfy Wiemer, who persisted with his efforts. He should have quit while he was ahead.
A second letter, this one from Gordon R. Batcheller, the state’s chief wildlife biologist, was decidedly less supportive. Batcheller flat-out dismissed Bigfoot as a “mythical” animal that “does not exist in nature or otherwise.”
And as far as protective laws or regulations go, Batcheller added that “no program or action in relation to mythical animals is warranted.”
So I guess it’s open season on Bigfoot in New York.
As you might surmise by now, I count myself among the skeptics where Bigfoot is concerned, to put it mildly. While there’s a certain romance to the notion of such mysterious and elusive creatures actually living among us, I don’t believe it. Then again, my background as a journalist means that skepticism is part of my basic nature.
On the other hand, discussion as to whether or not state hunting laws should apply to, or reference, non-existent animals raises some interesting philosophical questions. For instance, should the law be silent on such matters, or should it clearly state that government cannot regulate the hunting of creatures that don't exist?
Then again, maybe there should be a ban on hunting Bigfoot, not to protect the animal, but to protect the rest of us. You have to wonder about the mind set of someone who’s going about trying to shoot a mythical creature. Perhaps this person shouldn’t have a gun.
Mitchel Olszak is a columnist for the New Castle (Pa.) News.