May 16, 2006

Women in Bigfoot Research, Rebecca Bridges

*Photos Provided by Rebecca Bridges*

I met Rebecca Bridges a/k/a MountainLady, at the 2005 TBRC Texas Bigfoot Conference in Jefferson Texas. I really didnt get too much time to talk to her, but in the time that I had, I soon realized, not only does she have an incredible sense of humor, but she is intelligent and a strong woman. I would hate to be the person to tell Rebecca Bridges, she couldnt do something.

My membership in the AIBR has allowed me to get to know Rebecca and other women much better. One of the requirements that I needed to see in the women profiled here - was the ability to call a "spade a spade", and be damned the consequences. Rebecca along with the other women - will do just that. Rebecca embodies the qualities I strive for, along with all the women I admire. Rebecca has become a trusted friend, to myself and many others. I look forward to wonderful things from her, as her energy level runs high - and her love for this research is very obvious.

Women in Bigfoot Research, Rebecca Bridges..

Please tell the readers about yourself. What you would like people to know about you.

Rebecca: I was born in California in October of 1967 and my family moved to Utah when I was 4 years old where I lived my whole life up until 7 years ago when I moved to northeast Arkansas where I currently reside. I am married with 2 children and have been fortunate to have a supportive family given my fascination with such a controversial subject such as bigfoot research.

I used to go hiking and camping in the mountains of northern Utah as much as possible growing up and into adulthood, sometimes every weekend during the summer months with my dog(s) by my side. I am a mountain fanatic! I always loved leaving behind civilization and going to areas where people were rare and nature was at its finest. I miss that!

I first heard about bigfoot from my father who had become interested in the subject in the late 1950's when he read the newspaper articles of the bigfoot tracks found by Jerry Crew in Bluff Creek, CA. My father, years later, actually paid to go see a movie because he had heard they were showing the Patterson film before the Feature Presentation. I was only a baby then. It was only years later when I was about 8-9 years old that a show came on TV called “In Search Of..” which was focusing on bigfoot that I watched with my father. I was glued to the TV, yet had been told all my young life that “there’s no such thing as ‘monsters.’” I was frightened, yet fascinated and remember they played purported recorded screams and I asked my father what he thought and he very seriously told me he thought it was entirely possible that they could be real though he wasn’t certain and then told me of the track finds in previous years when we lived in California and the Patterson film which he had gone to see. He thought the creature in the Patterson film was possibly the real thing. My father was curious about these findings and we would read about it from time to time over the years and watch specials on TV about it when we could … little did he know that that curiosity would lead me to an even greater fascination and to where I am now.

In short, I became completely hooked…

How long have you been active in the field of Bigfoot research?

I’ve been active in research fo
r the past 4 years, though read everything I could get my hands on since I was a child. I was an investigator for the BFRO for about a year, but later left that organization of my own accord along with many other investigators, some which had served the BFRO for well over 5 years.

What has been your primary focus, in this field of study? Please explain.

I, like almost everyone else, want to know if these animals are really out there. I’d like to see undeniable, scientific proof.. an
d if/when that day ever comes, hopefully conservation efforts will go into effect to protect them and their environments. I’m also very interested in their behavior and intelligence.

I’ve worked with animals practically all my life, including domestic and exotics. I was very fortunate to land a job at a zoo for several years in which I was able to interact with both small and large exotic species, including great apes. Gorillas, in particular, absolutely fascinate me and I have a soft spot for them. They have a way of stealing your heart. *winks*

I was able to briefly meet Jane Goodall around 1986-87 when she visited our zoo, to dedicate a new savannah that had just been built, and give a presentation of her chimpanzee research which was very exciting for me. Over the years, I learned quite a bit about ape behavior (though not nearly enough to satisfy me) and witnessed much of it myself (at least, what can be witnessed in a zoo environment).

I had lost some interest in bigfoot at this time as most of the stories I would see on TV or hear about were pure bunk in my mind, and most of the books that were out (which were few) seemed to rehash the same stories. I had gotten serious doubts about there possibly being a large hairy biped living in North America. There was no new information and I basically lost interest for a time. At the same time, I would find myself wondering about it while on long hikes in the mountains.. just wondering.. what if..

It was many years later that I decided to do a web search on bigfoot one day, found the BFRO site, and began reading. As I was reading through some of their reports, I noticed a few in which similar behavior was being described. I was struck by something.. It seemed like some of these witnesses were describing ape-like behavior that not only had I read about, but I’d seen some of it. In short.. I was hooked… again…

The Skookum Cast find totally blew me away and is probably one of the best pieces of evidence we have to date aside from some very detailed track casts, IMO. Unfortunately, it still isn’t enough..

Are you active in any Organized Groups, or are you Independant? Or Both?

Rebecca: Both. I’ve worked independently and I am a founding member and on the Board of Directors for the Alliance of Independent Bigfoot Researchers and also currently serving as Treasurer for them.

What do you think about the growing numbers of women becoming active in this field? I think it’s fantastic!

Estrogen! Harness the Power! *laughs* In all seriousness, I think it’
s wonderful so many people, both men and women, are so interested in this fascinating subject! It’s a puzzling mystery with no easy answers that’s been going on for a very long time. It can get very frustrating at times and I have a lot of respect for those people who can stick it out and keep searching actively in the field as well as those who consider themselves “armchair researchers” and are diligently looking for answers in that arena.

Have you had to deal with any resistance to your being in this field of research, due to your gender?

I haven’t had to deal with anything like that, though have heard of some that have. I can’t really give an opinion on that as I hav
en’t experienced it myself. On the contrary, most of the men I’ve met or talked to in this field have been highly supportive and very helpful to me when I’ve needed it. I’ve gone to both men and women for advice on several occasions and though they may not always have an easy answer for me, there has been a great comradeship and teamwork involved and I really appreciate it and have made some wonderful friends to boot. Can’t beat that!

Can you give any advice to women who are considering entering this research, but are hesitant.

Know who you are, be yourself, and
keep the critical thinking cap on. It’s good to keep an open mind, but know usually the simplest answer is the correct one. Don’t jump to conclusions. Look at all possible explanations first to rule them completely out before coming to a possible conclusion. Common sense is a virtue.

One needs to have a thick skin as well. As unfortunate as it is, the world of bigfoot research can
be a tough one sometimes. There is a lot of cont
roversy both within the field itself and outside of it. There’s a long history with many differing personalities who may clash from time to time and there are also many, good, kind-hearted people too.

Know which animals are indigenous to your ar
ea of research. It is good to learn everything you can about them such as what they eat, the vocalizations they are capable of, what their scat and tracks look like, etc. Being aware of local plant life and its uses in the environment and with local wildlife is also helpful.

Get a partner to go in the field with you if you can. If you’re unable to, always make sure someone knows where you will be if in the field alone.

Have a good sense of humo
r! Laughter really is good medicine and we all need it from time to time.

How did you become involved in the search for this undocumented North American Primate?

I’ve explained much of that above. I had also met and become fast friends with Teresa Hall, Jaylee, Kathy Moskowitz Strain, Kathy Harper, Tim Cullen, Dan Keithley and many others on the BFF. I have the utmost respect for these men and women. Teresa emailed me one day and simply asked if I’d be interested in following up on some back-logged Arkansas reports and I jumped at the chance. I don’t regret it for one minute!

Have you had a sighting? If so please explain.

Unfortunately, no. That would be the ultimate experience and for me, at least, given a close enough sighting, would be my own personal proof that they are really out there.

Does not having a sighting ever discourage you? If so, why? If not, Why?

It does sometimes, but I haven’t let that stop me and the chances of having a sighting are equivalent to finding the old needle in the haystack. The odds are against me. There are enough interesting reports, includ
ing sightings and experiences by a couple close friends in whom I trust their judgments, to keep me actively interested.

Do you ever get into the field?

It is rare nowadays for me to actually get out in the field. Between family obligations, work, and supporting AIBR which is still in its growing stages, I stay pretty busy! Occasionally I’m able to get out, but don’t consider it “in t
he field” per se, but more like poking around and just enjoying nature. I usually have a very small partner (namely my daughter) accompanying me on my outings. She will be 4 years old soon and will make a great investigator someday. (haha!) I am pretty limited to where I can go when my little partner is in tow, but we still enjoy ourselves just the same. We haven’t found any signs of bigfoot in this particular region and I have no expectations of finding anything bigfoot-related in this part of the state, but plenty of evidence that populations of squirrels, raccoons, possums, and a plethora of other wildlife are flourishing! *laughs*

Do you take witness statements?

I was taking witness statements when I was active with the BFRO and continue to do so with AIBR when the opportunity arises.

Most researchers have one Report that "Stands Out" in their minds, is there a report that still "stands out" for you?

There are a few that stand out, but one in particular struck me as the witness reported waking up one morning in 1986 when he was around 12 years old to see something peering in the window at him while stayin
g at his grandparent’s farm in Jackson County, AR. When I first read the report, it had been submitted 1-2 years earlier and never been followed up on by anyone. I didn’t have expectations of there being much, if anything, to it, but went ahead and called the witness out of the blue. After some long in-depth interviews with the witness, I found him to be easy to talk to, down to earth, very matter of fact and still very puzzled at his experience and at a loss for an explanation as to what he saw that day. His story never wavered from his original submission and he was adamant at what he saw and experienced. After much questioning and going over the incident repeatedly, I felt that he was telling the truth as he experienced it and feel he did indeed see something. While I can’t say with complete certainty he saw a bigfoot, I can say that whatever he saw that day has affected his life and left him grasping for explanations and answers. He stated he was relieved to be able to finally speak to someone about it as it had been bothering him all these years and no one, aside from his immediate family, took him seriously.

What do you think is the most important question to ask a witness?

I don’t know that there is one particular question to ask of a witness that is more important than anoth
er. Every case is different. One must try to keep the big picture in their mind and see it from all angles and be able to ask the proper questions relating to that particular report and make sure to cover all the bases without leading the witness. Some are more difficult than others. The best thing I’ve found is to just listen. Let the witness tell the story, then you can go back and start questioning to get more details and clarification where needed. I take notes on everything to help me keep perspective.

It’s unfortunate that th
ere are many misidentifications, fabricators, and outright hoaxers looking to gain attention in this field for whatever reasons. It can become very frustrating at times and luckily, most of them are easy to weed out. But every once in awhile, that one good report comes along that leaves you scratching your head with no plausible explanations and it makes all those frustrating reports that have gone nowhere seem like a small hill of beans in comparison. Those are the types of reports that keep me going.

Do you have any advice for a new researcher?

Read all you can on the subject. Bigfoot has a very long history, going back to Native American stories that have passed down through generations with reports from many regions of North America still
coming in to this day. There is a lot of information out there in the way of stories and reports, but it is physical evidence that is needed to start being taken seriously by the general public and bring this animal to light of mainstream science. Ask a lot of questions. The Bigfoot Forums (aka BFF run by Paul Vella and Brian Brown) is a great place to get some answers and much debate in several areas of this subject, but there is a plethora of information to be found there and many well-known researchers with years of experience post there and share their findings and field techniques which is extremely helpful. I’ve learned a lot there, made some great friends, and it’s a fun place to boot! Our very own AIBR also has articles and a forum to help with advice, answer questions, look at evidence, evidence collection and protocol, etc.

The best advice I can give is to keep that critical thinking cap on and learn all you can before diving in. Everyone has something to offer in trying to solve pieces of this puzzle if they really put their mind to it. Maybe, someday, we will all have an answer to this amazing mystery.

I have no doubt we will be hearing from Rebecca Bridges more in the future. If after reading this interview - it is not obvious why I chose rebecca -- please re-read.

Thank you Rebecca!!


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