Poll finds many Washington residents believe in Sasquatch and UFOs

Anissa Ford's picture

4 out 10 people living in Washington state believe in Sasquatch and flying UFOs.

Another 13 percent have seen Sasquatch or know someone who has. PEMCO Insurance Northwest, a local insurance company in Washington state, polled residents about Sasquatch and UFOs.

The results were released conveniently after the Discovery Channel revisited the Sasquatch legend in two weeks ago. The poll is also just in time for Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" a series that premieres Sunday.

This week, a woman in Spokane uploaded a Youtube video claiming she's captured proof of Bigfoot. It just so happens that an uninterested shadowy figure scurries ahead of two unsuspecting young hikers while the third hiker captures it all on her iPhone.

One would think that Bigfoot, after all of these years, would be a little hungry. But then again, the video was filmed near the river and perhaps Bigfoot had done his fishing for the day. And maybe Bigfoot prefers sushi because no one found a campfire. In any case, the hikers don't stay around. In fact, they're rather oblivious to the figure. Many say the video is a hoax.

If Bigfoot exists, does it (or he, or she) have a life span or is it breeding singular things in stealth. Some believe that Sasquatch may be the surviving Gigantopithecus, a giant ape that inhabited China and southeast Asia 300,000 years ago. If Big Foot has been around that long, it's a shame it/he or she hasn't bothered to share its anti-aging secret.

Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" devotes several episodes to a search for Bigfoot. But it's unlikely the crew found anything. One blogger rightly suggested the series be renamed "Not Finding Bigfoot."

Bigfoot sightings have been claimed all across the country and Canada. But the Pacific Northwest is special. "The Northwest is home to unique folklore, so we decided it would be fun to explore what residents think about subjects that clearly are, well, a little different," said Jon Osterberg, PEMCO spokesperson. "We've had our share of strange sightings and events in Washington, and people here apparently are open to the idea that some of it is real.

Washingtonians were asked, "Do you believe there have been sightings of UFOs – space craft – that truly cannot be identified by anyone?" While 28 percent said "no, there's always an explanation," 55 percent said "yes, UFOs exist." And 32 percent said they've seen a UFO or know someone who did.

Although many Washingtonians say they believe in UFOs, a smaller number know where "flying saucers" first were reported. About one-third said it was in Roswell, N.M., while 10 percent said Area 51, Nevada. Only 12 percent correctly answered Washington, perhaps aware that the first highly publicized sighting of "flying discs" – which evolved into the widely used term flying saucers – was by pilot Kenneth Arnold near Mt. Rainier, when in 1947 he reported seeing nine flying discs that "moved like saucers across the water."

"I guess it's appropriate that 'The X-Files' was shot on location in the Northwest, in Vancouver, B.C.," said Osterberg, referring to the long-running TV show.

PRNewswire reports that the Northwest is home to other colorful folklore. In November 1971, a man using the name Dan Cooper (subsequently reported as D.B. Cooper) hijacked a Northwest Airlines 727, collected a $200,000 ransom in Seattle, and parachuted out of the jetliner at 10,000 feet near the southwest Washington town of Ariel. In 1980, a boy found $5,800 of Cooper's money while playing on a Columbia River sandbar. So speculation remains: Did Cooper jump to freedom and lose some of his loot while hiking out of the hills? Or did he die after jumping, perhaps from exposure or from broken bones?

There are so many legends coming out of Washington, it's hard to keep up. In 1969 Kettle Falls, 18 inch deformed footprints were found and those prints are too anatomically detailed to be fabricated, researchers say.

Mel's Hole is another mystery. That's a paranormal pit with mystical properties allegedly located near Manastash Ridge in rural Kittitas County. Urban legend told of the nine-foot hole for years, and in 1997 a man calling himself Mel Waters phoned Art Bell's late-night radio show to say it indeed exists on his former property, though he refused to reveal its location.

Old legends about a sulfur mine and wood shack at the summit of 12,276' Mt. Adams seem preposterous, but the U.S. Forest Service confirms that sulfur was mined at the very top of the peak in the 1930s and hauled down the mountain on pack mules. The shack ruins are still visible, particularly in low-snowfall years. Although it sounds fake, it's true.

Then there are the Mima Mounds near Rochester, Wash., thousands of short grassy humps ranging from 10 to 70 feet across on a 637-acre preserve. No one knows how they were formed, but theories abound: tailings from busy gophers. Wind and water erosion. Odd settling from an earthquake. Glacial deposits. Scientists know what they're not – a remnant of secret nuclear tests, since the mounds predate the atomic age; nor are they Native American graves, as suspected by 1841 Naval explorers.

835 drivers participated in the PEMCO poll.

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