BFRO / What's New - America and Canada / Archives / 06-19-2008 / Is Sasquatch a specialist or a generalist?

Topie: Is Sasquatch a specialist or a generalist?
February 26th, 2008 12:52 PM
1Sunseeker IS SASQUATCH A SPECIALIST OR A GENERALIST?

OK, here is a new topic for us to chew on. I have often wondered why there are not more BF than there seem to be. Loren Coleman in his book ďBigfootĒ on page 5 estimates 1500 BF in the entire NW. I have heard there are more and I have heard less. Letís say for talking purposes there are between 200-500 BF in Washington State. This is a creature that really has no known predators. There may be the odd confrontation with wolves or large bear but these would be remote and would probably be resolved without bloodshed. Unlike man, most animals donít fight to the death just for kicks. Perhaps a snarl, a little posturing, and one or the other would back off. There would be no gain from the expense of a fight. Internal parasites or perhaps a virus picked up from scavenging Homo sapiensí refuse may take a few, but again not in large numbers. Letís say there are 250 females in their fertile years, ages 15-45. Letís say they reproduce young every three years. Over the last 100 years there should be more than 500 BF kicking around WA. Man doesnít hunt them for pleasure or profit and they seem adept at staying away from the 18-wheelers. Why are there not more BF around? Why do we not have more evidence? Could our beloved creature practice infanticide? Many animals do, like baboons for example. Could the adult males kill the young to bring the females back into estrus? I know there are reports of family units, but groups of BF could be females and their nearly grown offspring, not conventional family units. Perhaps their fertility rate is less than my guess. But even then there should be a good quantity of BF around. I will try to contact those researchers more knowledgeable than I; to get their opinion of the numbers of BF in WA.

While the above thoughts may partially explain their limited numbers I would like to advance a different theory. I believe that the Bigfoot is a specialist. My theory started while reading an article in the Sep. 2007 issue of ďWashington TrailsĒ a magazine. (www.wta.org) This article, On the trail of cats, really got me thinking about our Sasquatch. This excellent one page article written by Sylvia Feder compares the lynx and the bobcat. In the opening paragraph she notes and I quote, ďEarnest Thompson Seton, a well known naturalist and writer, who in 1925 wrote that the lynx lives on rabbits, follows the rabbits, tastes like rabbits, increases with them, and on their failure dies of starvation in the unrabbited woods.Ē Feder explains that the lynx is a specialist in that it depends on one main food, snowshoe hares. Thatís hare, not rabbit, there is a difference. The bobcat is a generalist and will feed on a varied diet of small mammals, birds, fowl, reptiles, amphibians, eggs, fruit and the occasional fawn or small crippled deer.

So the lynx, the specialist, which no one denies exist, and the bobcat, the generalist, that everyone knows exist are two very similar but different cats. The lynx has a limited population, and sightings of it are rare. It normally stays above 5000 feet in elevation. The snowshoe hare population, upon which the lynx depends, rises and falls in a 10-year cycle. A low density of hares causes the cat to disperse and travel for long distances to find food. Like the lynx, perhaps the BF sometimes travels great distances looking for new range and food sources. This is when we see them. The bobcat on the other hand, is more numerous, is more adaptable and has a greater range. They are found throughout much of the lower elevations in Washington including the fringes of suburbia. It has adapted to living around man and is sighted more frequently.

I also believe BF is primarily a vegetarian, mostly because of his size. Herbivores are usually larger than carnivores. Could BF diet be tied to a naturally occurring food source? For example a 500-600 LB. BF would probably require 20-30 lbs. of foodstuff daily including the odd deer/elk liver and during spawning season, salmon. Thatís a lot of food. Berries wonít cut it. Think 1/3 to ľ the size of a rectangular bale of hay, needed daily, as much as the average cow, or horse. Where do they find this amount of graze? What is it? While on a BFRO expedition in BC I wandered along a trail near a swampy area. Looking for tracks, as I always do, I noticed a large area where something had pulled up a big quantity of cattails. It was a much larger area than what I have seen from the workings of beaver or muskrat when they are storing food in their lodges. I thought bear. It could have been bear but could it have been a BF feeding on the roots and tender portion of the stalks? There were no tracks. However since I thought bear I really did not get into the water and do a thorough inspection. I should have.

So, if we theorize that the BF is a specialist and is tied to his food source, and as that food source is diminished by increased logging, farming, drainage of swamps and real estate development we have a pretty good reason for there being a limited number. There are fewer each decade rather than more. Are we starving them to death? This would coincide with some reports of seeing tall skinny BF. Their food sources would be much harder to find now, than a few hundred years ago. The females would not reproduce as readily and the young could starve after leaving the motherís breast. This to me is a more logical explanation for the small numbers of BF. But wait you say, there are more sightings now than ever. Thus there are more BF. I donít believe so. Due to the excellent database furnished and supported by the BFRO and the advent of the Internet, our reporting of incidents is way better. People in general are no longer afraid to report a sighting or sound, and they have a place to do it!

In searching for BF perhaps we should first try to establish their local food sources. Then look for that. This is a big animal, they have to forage and they have to leave tracks. I am going to concentrate my research near swamps and boggy streams. I think there must be herbs or vegetation there that they like. Like deer, elk and man I believe they use natural corridors when traveling between feeding grounds; for example a saddle or natural crossing on a wooded ridge. By being nocturnal and extremely shy they will stay out of sight as much as possible. But like any wild animal they have to leave tracks. By stalking their feeding grounds and travel routes; we should have a better chance in seeing them and getting some good photos. This to me is more time efficient than random searching. These are some of my thoughts. I appreciate your input. 1Sunseeker


February 26th, 2008 01:55 PM
snoots good points you make..i firmly believe BF eats whatever is locally available as we humans do...one report i read somewhere was about deer carcasses with liver missing...well bears always eat the liver first..so if BF killed the deer and consumed the liver first would that put BF in the bear family?..i tend to believe BF is not linked to the ape family (prove me wrong i would like that which would mean we have undisputed evidence finally) and adapts very well to the surroundings which would mean consuming anything and everything available...the creek theory floated around with BF wanting to be near water and fish i belive is bunk.i am more inclined to think BF seeks cover and areas near streams or river provide adequate cover for traveling especially on the prairie...rivers are like green roads to BF in my opinion and thats where i would concentrate any search especially in the corn belt region...really nice read..thanks
February 26th, 2008 02:19 PM
BFSanctum Reports indicate BF is a generalist and eats pretty much anything available. Large animals and small, fish, fowl, grubs, leafy vegitables, new growth evergreen sprouts, nuts, berries, roots...you name it...even garbage from a dumpster.

If BF follows certain routes, I believe, it has more to do with constant fresh water supplies than food. Although food would be more abundant along waterways.

All that being said, the most convincing argument I have seen about food preference has to do with deer populations. Deer would be the one abundant source of large game for BF to follow.

February 26th, 2008 04:04 PM
Gazza Great thread. I don't believe that if they are strictly vegetarian if they are then their bellies would be larger to deal with the digestive system needed to break down the food. Think Gorilla big fat belly. All reports and video of the squatch indicate a more lean creature which would imply a more rounded diet.
February 26th, 2008 05:00 PM
LouBob Not to mention the numerous reports of BF running off with hunters' deer kills, breaking into people's outdoor freezers to get at deer meat, etc.

Tigers are carnvores who can weigh around 1,000 pounds.

I don't think anyone has a handle on the population. Based on my conversations with various investigators, I think it's higher than most folks would suspect.
February 26th, 2008 05:55 PM
Armydude A good thread for thought as in domestic cats some eat only certain brands of food only and starve if they dont get it, others will eat anything. If our big friend is ape related dont most primates have a male and a bunch of females and the other males born are run off? I'm not up on my primatology. I think they are more family unit related which may play a part on why they are so elusive.
I believe they probably stay within areas where food is plentiful throughout the year and possibly migrate at times for better food sources if possible. What I dont understand entirely is if they consume alot of deer/elk why they dont just go after cattle a an easy meal. Do cattle taste bad to them? Deer isnt much different is it. Well - difference in the tast between duck and chicken I would guess.
February 26th, 2008 06:05 PM
Tyler H Definitely believe it is an omnivore.
And as far as specializing to any degree... well, just the fact that we see them in such varied climes tends to support them being a generalist, or at the very least, adaptive to differing specialties.

Of course, there is a strong likelihood of there being multiple sub-species, but even then, the reports as mentioned above, including "dumpster diving", tends away from the animal being a specialist.
February 26th, 2008 06:30 PM
mwebbles On last year's MI expedition our esteemed founder, MM, attempted to quell our fear of black bears by telling us, "hey, they're nothing but huge raccoons!". He could just as easily have described squatches the same way (at least as far as dietary preference is concerned). Just by going thru the sighting reports (and the various threads on this board) it seems pretty safe to say that Our Critter is basically an omnivore. They've been observed eating deer, rodents, fish, mollusks, berries, assorted fruits, roots, table scraps and other human leavings and, most recently, dumpster contents. If that isn't an illustration of adaptability, I dunno what is. For my money, the Big Fella is an accomplished generalist -- which leads me to wonder if he's really that challenged by our supposedly degraded environment.

I'll admit to being somewhat confused in the ongoing battle over population estimates. Having just finished "The Locals", I tend to buy into the idea that squatches are more widespread than is generally believed and are better at concealing their presence than we can possibly imagine. Given that, I'm not exactly sure how we can begin to dope out a realistic estimate of their total numbers. 1,500 sounds pretty low to me, though.

Great thread but it almost poses too many questions.

MARC

February 26th, 2008 06:33 PM
marpop Maybe they are opportunists!Just last night, I was listening to recorded radio show about a man (I believe in Oklahoma) that has a large amount of property with deer and he reported finding deer carcuses about 8-10 ft up in trees-maybe mountain lion- but he does seem to have alot of BF activity.His closest neighbor, however, reported cow carcuses in trees that would weigh about 800 lbs-far to much weight for a mt. lion to drag up that far.I have to admit,I was so tired I fell alseep during the show and will have to re-visit it tonight and report back!
February 27th, 2008 02:26 AM
Bob Naranja Good post Sunseeker..

I believe, like many seem to agree, that they eat anytyhing that is available, meat & vegetation.

With reagdrs to populations, i think the figures Loren Coleman uses are actually lower than what i believe the population to be.

If Coleman is basing that stat on BC also, i think he is well under, Human population to uninhabitatad km2 or mile2 will test that particular stat to it's limits IE No people, No sightings, No Sightings, No Reports, No reports = Loren thinking that the population may not be that great in that particular area maybe ??

With regards to Family Groups, i believe they are a serious possibility, i'm not sure where Dad would fit in, or even if he'd fit into it at all but Albert Ostman may argue differently. ;)

I think the general concensous is that of a Lone Adult Male with a territory that he looks over, we can only assume as to what size that territory would be, if that's how they live their Lives anyway..

I believe they have a high enough level of intelligence, like us, that they wouldn't kill their own young, well, not the majority anyway & not for the reason you think Sunseeker IE To bring Females back into Estrus...

Even in Humans we do it but it isn't for the reason to bring a Partner back into Season/Heat/Estrus & likewise other Ape's i think..
February 27th, 2008 02:36 AM
davidib Some good thoughts from original post. By narrowing the possibilities from many points of view, will eventually lead to more knowledge on these critters.
However I myself am convinced there adaptive abilities make them opportunists. Keep in mind theyve been watching us for eons.
February 28th, 2008 11:35 AM
Andy Mwebbles:
Bears as huge raccoons? Ever been bitten by a raccoon? Sharp, sharp, but luckily small, small teeth.....bears on the other hand....sharp, sharp, big, big!

People who see BF's teeth up close and personal describe them as something like ours--no big canines visible--so they are certainly not obligate carnivores like tigers. They survive winters, so they are not obligate frugivores, either

To be live in so many places, with so many different food sources they'd almost have to be omnivores, which is what most primates are anyhow, but we've also talked here about how they'd benefit in the winter from having a bacteria-laden & heat-producing caecum (like a horse) or fore-gut (less likely). Both would produce a bigger tummy & barrel-shaped appearance.
I can't see BF as a total herbivore, like a Gorilla, and certainly not an indiscriminant grazer like a cow. He'd have to sit still and eat and digest all day, and BFs seem to be pretty active compared to Gorillas and certainly compared to cows or goats.

Almost all primates have very simple stomachs with few folds that don't do much to process food but instead just serve as holding bins. The intestines do all the work--and they are hugely variable across primate species, so as far as BF is concerned: anything is possible. But I doubt that they are any more adapted to eating large amounts of raw meat than we or chimps are (raw fish on the other hand...). Large doses of meat might not possible for them. Bone marrow might be OK--and it's stuffed with calories and fat.

BFs are always found in association with water--this may be and probably is a much-overlooked food source for them, along with insects.
If a BF family spent a whole night in a creek or at the sea shore it would probably come away well-fed, and not need highly-specialized dentition or digestive abilities. Even during winter, it might be possible to sniff up and dig out hibernating frogs, or crack open a log to find grubs in order to supplement the diet.
My money is on Omnivore.
March 10th, 2008 01:08 PM
1Sunseeker OKÖ. I have been off for a while and now have some time to get back to this. It seems the majority of readers here seem to think BF an omnivore. I can subscribe to that. I think their diet is largely plant but I could understand how they would take the odd mountain grouse, hare or amphibian as it presents itself. This would supplement their diet but are there enough of these small creatures out there to sustain such large creatures? As for the premise that they are able to catch deer or elk? I guess I would have to see that to believe it. I have a hard time believing any two-legged creature can run down a healthy four-legged creature. To me something as big as a BF crashing through the low hanging branches, brush, devils club and Himalayan blackberry canes we have here in the Northwest in pursuit of a deer is pretty hard to visualize. They could just be whipping along, stub a toe on a rock or stump and go a** over teacups, sit there and watch the deer out of sight. Four legs are better than two are in a race. IMHO. Perhaps in the higher Elevation Mountains where there are more open areas they could relay and have a better chance but here in the lowlands? With the jumping ability of deer and elk I think they could clear out before a BF could catch one. This is a matter of life and death for the deer. That is unless the deer or elk is sick or crippled already. Than they are prey to everything. BF could always take a young fawn of course if they could find it. But the fawns are only available in the spring. They may intimidate other predators and steal their kill, but to flat out run down a healthy deer? If we believe deer and elk are a principal portion of their diet why donít they take cattle and sheep? Much slower, fenced in and a larger meal. I realize the Native Americans could run down a horse but that was out in the plains where there was a lot of room, good sighting and they could employ relays. Much as wolf and coyote do.

So if we work under the premise the BF is an omnivore, why arenít there more of them? The BFRO in their Q&A say 2000-6000. Seems like a fair number to me. But why not more as they really donít have any predators? And if there were more why wouldnít they move in on the sheep and cattle for food?

As more clear cutting and logging of the old growth forest goes on you would think there would be more food available for BF along with other forest creatures. This doesnít seem to be the case. I am still waiting for someone to catch one.
March 10th, 2008 02:06 PM
Mercury Wow..Cool thread.

Toss my two cents in there.

In order to get a better estimation of population, I think if they can find out exactly how nomadic a BF is, they can get a better idea. EX: A bucks range is relatively small but during a rutt he can cover 5 square miles of turf.

IF they can determine that a BF's "home range" is hundreds of square miles depending on seasons, then I guess you can use math to determine sightings to population, taking into account unreported ones, and what not.

If they can determine he stays put (lets say a 20 square mile home turf) then you have to assume with all the reports all over, that the population would be higher. Granted this is all a "what if" scenario. Its all based upon finding out his nomadic tendencies!

As for not killing their own. There are arguments for both. Comparing BFs to the animal world you can say everything from an elephants parental skill to an animal like a shark that drops its young and forgets them. So they compare BFs to what they think it might be (cross of human/primate). And with primates, they are obviously good parents. Below is an section of a report that some might find impossible.

I surrender all copyrights to Jens Shriver.

The acts of cannibalism and infanticide are very apparent in the behavior of the chimpanzee. Many African studies show that wild chimpanzees kill and eat infants of their own species. (Goodall, 1986:151) Although there is not a clear answer why chimps engage in this very violent and sometimes gruesome behavior there are many ideas and suggestions. This essay will deal with chimpanzee aggression, cannibalism and infanticide. This paper will present information on major research studies performed in Africa and analyze how and why this strange behavior occurs in a commonly thought peaceful primate.

Here is the link to the entire paper. I believe this was written either by Jane Goodall or based upon her reports from the field.

http://www.essaysample.com/essay/000836.html

Interesting reading when you compare it to the current subject thread.
March 10th, 2008 03:15 PM
BFSanctum
Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote:
OKÖ. I have been off for a while and now have some time to get back to this. It seems the majority of readers here seem to think BF an omnivore. I can subscribe to that. I think their diet is largely plant but I could understand how they would take the odd mountain grouse, hare or amphibian as it presents itself. This would supplement their diet but are there enough of these small creatures out there to sustain such large creatures?


Iím sure there are enough small creatures to sustain the protein requirements of a Sasquatch but the energy expended to get that food source probably cost prohibitive for such a large animal. I imagine that small game is a supplemental snack for Bigfoot.

Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote:
As for the premise that they are able to catch deer or elk? I guess I would have to see that to believe it. I have a hard time believing any two-legged creature can run down a healthy four-legged creature. To me something as big as a BF crashing through the low hanging branches, brush, devils club and Himalayan blackberry canes we have here in the Northwest in pursuit of a deer is pretty hard to visualize. They could just be whipping along, stub a toe on a rock or stump and go a** over teacups, sit there and watch the deer out of sight. Four legs are better than two are in a race. IMHO. Perhaps in the higher Elevation Mountains where there are more open areas they could relay and have a better chance but here in the lowlands? With the jumping ability of deer and elk I think they could clear out before a BF could catch one. This is a matter of life and death for the deer. That is unless the deer or elk is sick or crippled already. Than they are prey to everything. BF could always take a young fawn of course if they could find it. But the fawns are only available in the spring. They may intimidate other predators and steal their kill, but to flat out run down a healthy deer? If we believe deer and elk are a principal portion of their diet why donít they take cattle and sheep? Much slower, fenced in and a larger meal. I realize the Native Americans could run down a horse but that was out in the plains where there was a lot of room, good sighting and they could employ relays. Much as wolf and coyote do.


Many of the reported sightings of a Sasquatch indicate that it has been observed at the edge of a forested area near a clearing. At least one witness stated that while observing a deer, a Bigfoot materialized out of the tree line took a quick step toward the deer and broke the deerís neck before the deer had a chance to react.

It has also been hypothesized that BF hunt in pairs or small groups and drive prey toward other waiting BF. Could this be some of the tree knocking we hear?

Many reports suggest that BF can move extremely fast. There are reports of BF paralleling cars at great speeds.

Deer with broken necks or backs are often found hanging from trees in the forest, often some of the prime internal organs are missing. Most wild animals are not capable suspending a large animal from a tree. Hunters do not take a liver out of a deer and hang the rest of the carcass. One conclusion could be that BF does.

I personally think that BF enjoys venison on occasion.

Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote:
So if we work under the premise the BF is an omnivore, why arenít there more of them? The BFRO in their Q&A say 2000-6000. Seems like a fair number to me. But why not more as they really donít have any predators?


Bigfoot may rely on low population to remain hidden. You forgot to consider that man is the most dangerous predator of all. Over the course of centuries, BF may have learned to keep his numbers down and avoid man just to ensure survival of the species.


Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote
And if there were more why wouldnít they move in on the sheep and cattle for food?


People have observed BF carrying deer, large salmon, domesticated cows and other large animals.


Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote
As more clear cutting and logging of the old growth forest goes on you would think there would be more food available for BF along with other forest creatures. This doesnít seem to be the case.


It may or may not be the case. BF observed, are not usually described as malnourished. I have a feeling food supply isnít a problem in any case.

Quote:
1Sunseeker wrote
I am still waiting for someone to catch one.


Iíd settle for a good hi-definition video or a personal sighting. I donít really want to see one in captivity. Of course if someone did catch one Iíd be first in line because curiosity would get the better of me.
March 14th, 2008 11:40 AM
MrBurris I would not think a BF would be an active hunter but more of an ambush style predator when hunting large game. When hunting small game its ability to throw rocks could be quite handy. A well thrown rock has the ability to cripple or kill a small animal. In addition saplings of certain species, tree bark, roots, tubers and fruits would round out a quite nice omnivorous diet. Fishing would probably be a more specialized strategy practiced by individuals rather than a population if at all. The problem with conjecture on this topic is the diverse geographic regions these animals are sighted in and assumed to live. High rocky mountains to temperate rain forrests, southern swamps to deciduous forrests to boreal forrests. It would be impossible for one species to live in all the above mentioned habitats without behavior specific to location. I also believe that physical adaptation is another factor to the diversity of habitat. To think an animal could live in the everglades and the same species (or even a sub-species) is found in boreal forrests in Canada is mind blowing. The strategies to survive in these opposite climates would be highly specialized to local populations. I would doubt seriously that these animals are vegitarian. The intellect attributed to them would almost require the protien rich diet of a carnivore/omnivore/scavenger to promote brain development.
March 15th, 2008 05:10 PM
herbmaven MrBurris is thinking what I'm thinking as I look out onto the 2-3 feet of snow in my backyard. ...specialized to local ecosystems...yep. Omnivore. yep. But I still scratch my head at BF sticking around for Montana winters. I was in Yellowstone recently and even on snowshoes I was breaking through 2 feet down (4 to 6 feet deep there right now). You can barely get around on the snow unless you are on a regularly walked trail (snowshoes over bison trail works pretty good). Something THAT big is going to break all the way through the snow like a bison. It's going to make huge tracks or trail I guess in the snow.

Point is. If BF is here in the winters, he's not in Yellowstone or where there is deep snow, unless they hibernate for a couple of months at least. Otherwise, they are going to be at lower elevations near rivers where the deer also hang out. And maybe they travel over to the warmer parts. For example, western Montana is called "tropical Montana" for a reason. Their snow melted a couple of months ago.

So I think local conditions are going to sway diet and lifestyle a lot. There is nothing but sagebrush and pine to eat here in the winter. Honest! So maybe BF is chewing on saplings now and then. But I think the ones here have got to be going after meat. It's the only choice, really. And we have a ton of deer.
March 16th, 2008 12:18 AM
tacomajoe By reading some of the reports some people describe BF teeth as being flat like a humans, im not sure but I think I read somewere that haveing flat teeth is a sighn of being an omnivore.. (I think that is the word) meaning eats both vegtables and meat?
Any way I believe that BF adapts to his or her inviroment and eats what is availible to it. It is possable that BF also is a gatherer maybe puts some food away for hard times. I wounder sometimes if that stick formations are a sign of food storage. Anyone have any thoughts on that?
March 16th, 2008 09:42 AM
Mercury I read somewhere here that several deer have been found, opened up but not eaten like a coyote or bear would do.(one place was in ohio) The only found the livers missing. They claim ounce for ouce, the liver is the best thing for an animal to eat. I just got done butchering two pigs and a steer. The steer halves were almost 500 lbs each. The liver was about the size of my chest and had to weigh...25-30 lbs or so. I never really paid attention to deer livers. Would a deer's liver (or two) be enough for an adult male??
March 16th, 2008 09:49 AM
Goldilocks well then I think the best thing to put out if you put up a cam would be liver.
March 16th, 2008 12:11 PM
Andy Beef Liver (not my favorite food):

One 295g piece (~10 oz.) has

516 Calories, 124 of which are Fat Calories
78g Protein
101% daily value of Iron
1539% daily value of Vitamin A
(for a person)

The Better Half shot 2 deer last season--each in the 140lb to 150 lb weight range (at least, that's what they felt like)--and I bet there is now ~120lbs of meat in the freezer.
A lot of the animal is bone--not like a steer that's bred for big muscles in the legs (deer legs are scrawny).

For comparison, People livers weigh maybe 2 or 3 pounds.

Deer livers intrigued me, so I looked them up, only to find very little information other than the curious fact that in Elk, the weight of the liver increases (via fat being added, which is something that People can do too) during the rut, so that an Elk liver might run 7 lbs. at that time--that's a huge amount of Calories!
Deer are a lot smaller, but even if the liver of a whitetail is the same percentage of body weight as a human liver (considering that it filters perhaps the same volume?) it's a substantial organ.
I'm betting a little under 2,000 Calories overall--which is about what an average human eats in a day.

As to whether big predators can live on little rodents?
Read Farley Mowat's work (Never Cry Wolf) on wolves: he discovered that they survive the winters largely by eating mice, which they hunt beneath the snow by listening for them.