While growing up in Southeast Idaho, I spent a lot of time on horseback in the river bottoms of the Snake River. I gained an appreciation for nature and formed a deep connection to the living things that surrounded me. Many of my friends were Native Americans belonging to the Shoshone Bannock tribe. My friendship with them added to my love for nature and respect for life in all its forms.

I had heard legends of a large man-like creature and figured they were talking about a Sasquatch. I had seen things on television and about the supposed creature but I had always remained curious yet skeptical. My formal education in zoology followed by attending veterinary school gave me a greater understanding of how little we actually know about all of the life forms on our planet. I gained a more open mind about many things but when I came to the subject of Bigfoot, I still remained a skeptic. Then one night that all changed.

A friend of mine owned property a few hundred yards from my cabin in the woods near Island Park, Idaho. Due to my background as a veterinarian and him having watched me track wild animals, he called me over to his property to inspect some strange tracks. It was an experience that shook me to the core!

When I first got to his property and saw the tracks, I immediately started trying to figure out how he could have pulled off such an elaborate hoax. The more I tried to reason that these giant footprints that looked just like a huge barefoot human’s, the more clear it became that they were real! They looked exactly like a large (and I mean like 18 inches from toe to heal) human footprints. By the depth they penetrated the snow compared to my 230 pound size 12 prints, I estimated this animal weighed several hundred pounds. Even if I jumped up and then landed on one foot, mine only sank about 3 inches into the snow. These prints were a good 4-8 inches depending on the location (sunny versus shady etc). Give the amount of surface area these approximately 18 by 8 inch tracks covered, that’s a lot of snow to pack down with each step. The spacing between each footfall varies between 4-6 feet. Even if I tried to jump between steps, in that snow, I couldn’t come anywhere near that.

The prints paralleled moose tracks. I didn’t know if it was tracking the moose or walking along with it. I followed the tracks through the forest until they came to a road where a snowplow had passed and couldn’t find where they went from there.

I had thought of Sasquatch or Bigfoot as a legend, a myth, a scary campfire story up until that day. Every bit of my experience as a biologist, a scientist, an animal doctor, an outdoorsman, a hunter/tracker, and a realist could only come to one conclusion: These tracks were made by an animal weighing several hundred pounds with human like feet, HUGE stride, and the ability to walk through deep snow like no barefoot human could dream of.

We sent the pictures to Dr Jeff Meldrum at Idaho State University. He is without a doubt one of the world’s leading crypto zoologists and a well-respected scientist and professor. He said he had no doubts as to their authenticity and agreed with my conclusions.

Take it as you will but for me, there is no longer doubt in my mind, there are large ape-like animals in the forest who mean us no harm and it appears they are herbivores based on there never being any signs found of them killing another animal.

Don’t fear them. I still frequently walk alone in the woods. I make noise and carry bear spray but if I ever have the chance to meet one of these creatures, I shall do so as if I were meeting a silverback gorilla in his territory. With meekness, gentleness, non-threating body language. I will drop my head and avoid eye contact, and slowly extend my hand palm up and hope it will recognize this as a universal friendly request for acceptance and submission amongst primates world wide.

I just hope it doesn’t desire to take me home and make me a pet…

Letter written by Michael Retford DVM following a discussion we had about “Squatch” during a visit to his home in Island Park Idaho (near Yellowstone Park) Memorial Day weekend 2020…

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