Is Bigfoot in the Mountain State?

Charleston Daily Mail
by Kris Wise

People who believe in Bigfoot will be trudging through the West Virginia woods in a couple of months hoping for a close encounter with the legendary creature.

The Mountain State has been picked by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, considered the nation’s authority on the search for Sasquatch, as the site of an April expedition. Based on the number of recent reports by people who claim they’ve seen the hairy apelike animal in person, Bigfoot experts and devoted believers think there’s a good shot they’ll find some evidence of its existence in the state.

Among those who’ll be scouting backwoods hollers and mountain trails are a couple of folks with longtime West Virginia ties.

Stephen Willis is a retired military officer who grew up in West Virginia and now runs a successful business across the state line in Virginia manufacturing parts for industrial equipment and mining machines.

Pam Lovins works in healthcare administration in Huntington.

They’re both well respected in their fields, have a lot of friends and seem to be bright, logical people.

But they acknowledge their hobby – searching for Bigfoot – can be difficult for some people to swallow.

“There’s not a lot of funding out there for Bigfoot research, so we do have to have our day jobs,” says Lovins, who’s in her 40s and lives in Kenova.

Willis, 56, and Lovins are official investigators for the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

Founded in 1995 by California attorney Matthew Moneymaker, the group has dozens of volunteer investigators, who by day are scientists, journalists and business owners. In their spare time, they meet with people claiming to have had a Bigfoot encounter and decide the validity of those eyewitness reports.

In the past couple of years, Willis and Lovins have investigated dozens of reported sightings in the Mountain State.

In April, they’ll join other Bigfoot researchers for the four-day expedition through the West Virginia wilderness. They’ll be looking for footprints and any physical evidence to prove their theory that Bigfoot abounds in places all across the country. And as always, they’ll be holding their breath and hoping for a close encounter with the creature.

It will be the second time in the past few years such an expedition has taken place in the West Virginia woods.

In 2006, the organization led a mission over two consecutive weekends in Pocahontas and Greenbrier counties.

Willis, who’s been on 14 such expeditions from California to Texas, will head up the search for the first time.

“We choose areas with a history of sightings,” he said, careful not to divulge the exact locations of the April trek.

“We can’t tell people exactly where we’re going before we do this because we don’t want people coming in with guns blazing,” Willis said. “There are a lot of people who’d like to kill one.

“But we are just out to collect evidence, and if we have a sighting, that’s great.”

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