The Canadian Adrian Erickson led a multi-year Bigfoot research project from 2005 to 2010. Much controversy has surrounded his endeavors. In this exclusive in-depth interview Erickson talks about why his highly anticipated documentary was cancelled, how he thinks about the reaction of the science community towards the Erickson Project, why he’s convinced that the ‘sleeping Sasquatch’ footage is authentic, and explains what the DNA evidence gathered at his sites has shown.
When and why did you start the Erickson project?
Adrian Erickson: I started the project after seeing a Sasquatch crossing the road driving through the Rocky Mountains. After this experience I became an investigator for the BFRO. I started the Erickson Project a bit later, when I decided to prove this thing once and for all.
It has been over ten years now. Back then I thought I would have this whole ‘Sasquatch Phenomena’ wrapped up in a year or two. Never would I have guessed that 10 years later, after DNA analysis and a partial genome sequencing (on three separate samples, two blood, and one saliva, plus 40+ hair samples from all corners of North America) including Mathilda, we are no further ahead in the realm of acceptance of the species. Once you see one with your own eyes you know they exist. Trying to prove this is another matter entirely.
Can you tell me about a typical day for you at the research site in Kentucky?
I was not there full-time. Early in the morning I would be slipping around in the bush, downwind, looking for evidence of Sasquatch feeding, seeing if they had touched food that we had left for them. Later in the day on I would be dealing with local residents and their issues. At times we would do some B-roll video taping, prior to dark we would sneak in with night vision cameras and wait for opportunities for Sasquatch to show themselves.
How often were the creatures around?
Very irregularly. On average once every two weeks we would see one or encounter brisk movement in the trees. Every second or third time we were out, we would hear tree knocking. We brought three other scientists onto the site. Dr. Jeff Meldrum could only be there for three days, he heard repetitive tree knocking, where the Sasquatch would mimic our tree knocks. Dr. John Bindernagel stayed longer and he observed a Sasquatch moving, mostly screened by trees. Curt Nelson stayed in a tree stand at night, and had a Sasquatch walk up to him and shake his ladder, it scared the hell out of him.
Why did they even come?
It was their habitat. According to local residents they had always been coming around.
What made them come?
I suspect food. Some time we set food out for them.
I’ve heard that the location is not out far in the forest but very close to a community.
Yes, it is a regular large acreage residential area with a heavily treed ravine through it. Dense vegetation, fingers of trees and bush feeding back down to the Ohio river.
Is the research site still active?
No, it’s not.
What has become of the property?
It has been sold to a friend of Dennis Pfohl.
Are the creatures still there?
I presume so. They seem to roam the area.
Can you tell me about the plans to do a documentary about the Erickson Project? What has happened? Will it ever be released?
In 2011, we decided to shelf the documentary which was in its finishing stages. We were not able to get a unpartial, open-minded scientist who would stick his/her neck out to discuss the controversial DNA results; as they were, not in accordance with DNA of likely species. Only the (uninformed) media gave it some sound bite time on various TV news stations, and the Sasquatch community crucified Melba’s results, a couple of ‘expert’ lend their opinions. There was so much opposition and skepticism. Releasing the documentary at that time would be pointless.
It was like saying we found a purple apple and everyone else said no it can’t be because apples have always been red. Even others in the Sasquatch community in the race to come up with DNA did nothing but discredit the project.
We got offers from LA, tangling with entertainment lawyers, copyright etc etc, just a frenzy of sharks circling, those offers turned out to be reality TV shows, more interested in ratings and entertainment than taking a serious look at the study itself. None of this would benefit the big picture, or add to the discovery of the species. So I turned them down and decided to take a break.
What personal conclusion do you draw from this study?
The world is not ready to accept what this species is. Certainly the scientific community is not. As an example, even though Dr. Leila Hadj-Chikh witnessed a Sasquatch doing a bluff charge (and recorded the audio of it), she can not come out and say Sasquatch exist as, I presume, she will be criticized by her peers, or perhaps by doing so diminish her chances in the research field. If she feels she can not, how can others?
Was it worth the effort?
Yes it was, despite the great cost, stress and sacrifice, especially of Dennis Pfohl, who spend a lot of time away from his family and missing his kids‘ milestones, while researching.
What have you learned?
Sasquatch will decide when it is time to be recognized. The Sasquatch decides when he let you see him. There is no ‘hunting for Sasquatch’ with night vision and cameras as I naively thought at the start of this project. Unless they are chance encounters, the Sasquatch knows when you are there and he is stalking us humans, NOT the other way around. I have also I learned more about human nature along the way, the viciousness and prejudice on the subject.
What did you think Bigfoots were and what do you think they are now?
Before I thought they were a decent of previous great apes. We know now the female side (mitochondrial DNA) is modern human, the male side (nuclear DNA) is so far unknown to this world. And there is the rub for scientists who think they already mapped out and named every species on earth. The fact they might have missed one is not accepted.
Do they have language?
Yes absolutely, we have heard them and there are many reports of people who have heard them talk. They also are good at mimicking sounds.
Do they use tools?
Not that we have seen. Sticks, rocks, and their strength appears to be their only tools.
Have you ever experienced strange stuff like a feeling of dread in the presence of Bigfoot?
Yes, when I was 17 I had an encounter, while hunting, something screamed at me, when I got close something imparted fear in me even though I had a gun and was fearless in bush by myself. It was an impending feeling of doom, I had to get out of there, which I did.
Did Leila and Dennis experience similar things?
Dennis might have in Colorado. Not sure about Leila.
Do you think infrasound maybe the explanation for this?
It could be, we just don’t know enough.
Is there a feeling of disappointment after the reaction of the scientific community towards the Ketchum study and the Erickson Project?
Adrian Erickson: Absolutely. So much effort, we went for it all the way, did what most did not do, invested so much time and energy and dollars.
Do you reject the criticism or do you agree in parts?
I can understand part of it. But at that time there was such a race to be ‘the first’ to prove the existence of the Sasquatch, that groups just started to discredit each other. Recently a group in Denmark did a study that came up with the same DNA results as we did. Pretty remarkable stuff.
Is there better footage than what was shown at the press conference and why has it not been shown?
The quality varies, similar to what has been shown so far. Issues with handheld mini cams, that come with autofocus, which often focus on the trees in front and won’t let you manually focus on the creature behind, did pose a problem at some instances. There is more footage than presently released.
I’ve heard that you sold all of your video material.
I did NOT sell any of it. I NEVER sold a single piece. This project is still as far as I know the biggest research done to date on the subject, it might have a future use.
Is the Erickson Project ongoing?
We shelved the project as it appears no one was ready for the truth, the timing appeared not to be right. Today there is instant gratification. I guess people want it cleared cut and dried. We likely pick it up again in the future when things change.
I’m still on the fence when it comes to the authenticity of the whole project.
This does not surprise me. It is very frustrating for us after 10 years of effort, there is no traction in the scientific world on the subject. The only publicity the Sasquatch is getting is through reality TV shows which are either ambiguous or sensational bringing things to the forefront and let the viewer decide.
There are a lot of people, even in the Bigfooter community, who claim that the Erickson Project is a big hoax.
The Erickson Project is and always was intended to be 100% authentic. Our team, Leila, Dennis and myself, and our contributors Dr. Bindernagel and Dr. Meldrum are 100% upstanding, reliable citizens. The intention was to prove to the world the people coming forward with Sasquatch stories are not liars, and to prove the species exists. There absolutely never was any intend to hoax, or present fraudulent information, or make money from the project.
We can confidently say that the documented evidence collected by Dr Leila Hadj-Chikh and Dennis Pfohl, and myself, is 100% authentic. At certain habituation instances we had to rely on local residents to film or collect evidence, ‘as things happened’ in their backyard. Can I say with 100% this portion of evidence is authentic? Not having been there, and the fact that this subject is prone to hoaxing, there is always the possibility of unethical behaviour. But one has to keep in mind that The Erickson Project is looking at the big picture. Nit picking little details that could have been handled better along the way by what I call ‘armchair critics’ is not helping.
If one takes all the evidence, film, audio, footprints, DNA, sightings etc and take it as one body of evidence collected by thousands of people, all the effort authors have put in to publishing unprofitable books, surely they are not all hoaxers.
No matter what evidence the Erickson Project brought forth, it was never good enough, and with the current digital technology out there, it is easier than ever to recreate things even surpassing reality: how can we prove our film footage and audio recordings are real? If the quality is poor, they say the footage is fake. If quality is outstanding, they say it is too good to be real.
The so-called sleeping Sasquatch footage looks suspicious to me.
I can say it is 100% authentic knowing the circumstance how and by whom it was taken.
The Mathilda footage also looks strange and I’ve corresponded with Bill Munns who thinks that the creature in the film is a fake. What do you say?
Bill was not there the day it was taken, nor were we when this was taken. We have reason to believe it is the same Sasquatch that was in the area that both Dennis and I saw, on separate occasions, at close range.
What needs to be done to get the species accepted by mainstream science?
I do not have the answer. Only scientists can explain this one.
Are you still an active researcher?
What do you do nowadays? Are you still involved with Bigfoot research?
I work with the First Nations People of Canada. Incidentally they have accepted the existence of Sasquatch and have many stories. I am not actively involved in Bigfoot research at the moment.
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Adrian Erickson / Anthropology / BFRO / Bigfoot / Controversies / Cryptozoology / Curt Nelson / Dennis Pfohl / DNA / Erickson Project / Hominins / Jeff Meldrum / John Bindernagel / Leila Hadj-Chikh / Mathilda the Bigfoot / Melba Ketchum / Sasquatch / Science