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Bigfoot: real or hoax?
COTTON ISLAND, Louisiana (The Town Talk) -- People are still visiting the area where two loggers claim to have seen a Bigfoot creature, but a wildlife agent now says he thinks the reported sightings are a hoax.
"Right now we're treating it as a hoax," said Kevin Hill of the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Despite the likelihood of a hoax, Hill said, the matter is still under investigation by the DWF and Rapides Parish Sheriff's Office.
Meanwhile, the two loggers -- log foreman Earl Whitstine and saw-cutter Carl Michael Dubois, both of Grant Parish -- are sticking tight to their story that they saw a Bigfoot creature in the Cotton Island area of northeast Rapides Parish last week.
Their boss, Joe Delrie, owner of Delrie Wood Products of Colfax, says he believes their tale wholeheartedly, despite others' skepticism about the authenticity of the alleged Bigfoot sightings and tracks found in Boggy Bayou.
Mary Ward, the owner of the land where the reported sightings took place, said around 200 people have come out to her property to view the plaster cast taken from a "Bigfoot" footprint and the Boggy Bayou site.
"They all go away pretty well convinced," Ward said.
A sign put up over the weekend at the entrance to Ward's property reads "Big Foot Protection Area." She said a Bigfoot supporter asked for her permission to place it in that prominent position.
She said visitors are welcome as long as they only shoot with cameras. No guns or dogs allowed.
Whitstine said he saw the unusual creature once on Tuesday morning and again on Thursday while working with Dubois.
Whitstine and Dubois flatly deny they concocted a hoax, saying they had nothing to gain from such a ruse.
"Me and that man (Whitstine) seen what we seen. It was big, hairy and had big feet," Dubois said.
The two men were working in the Cotton Island area removing hardwood logs, they said, when the creature made his two appearances.
Whitstine's father, R.C. Whitstine, admitted this week that he was involved in a Bigfoot hoax more than 25 years ago.
Earl Whitstine said that he did not remember the incident well, but did say he didn't believe his father was involved in the hoax where "Bigfoot" tracks were discovered near Willianna.
"At the time, they said, 'Somebody like R.C. would do something like that, but he didn't do it," Earl Whitstine said.
Earl Whitstine said his family trapped animals for extra holiday money and was in the woods of Grant Parish often.
He believes it was this fact that his father was unfairly pegged as a Bigfoot hoaxer.
But R.C. Whitstine, 76, has admitted sawing a footprint out of plywood to make some tracks.
"We were just having some fun with a new saw," he told The Town Talk.
As for the current rash of sightings, Earl Whitstine and Dubois say the creature they saw in the forest was about seven feet tall, covered in black hair and had big feet.
Neither claimed they smelled a foul odor, but a fisherman who also was said to have seen the creature reported it smelled bad.
Whitstine claimed he saw the "booger" once on Tuesday morning while operating a tree cutter. He said the sound of the machine's bucket startled the creature, and it ran across a nearby creek and off into the woods.
"After it jumped into the water, it looked back at me," Whitstine said.
That would not be the last of Bigfoot, he said.
Two days later, the two loggers were walking along a property line when they came across the strange creature once again, they said. This time it ran away when Whitstine called to it, they said.
It was after that sighting that the tracks were discovered in the dry bayou.
"They can say it was a camel riding an elephant, but I saw what I saw," Whitstine said.
Jackie Dubois, Carl Michael's father, was also on the crew that day, and he said he has no doubt that his son saw a strange creature.
"I didn't get to see it, but I wished I could've, but I didn't," Jackie Dubois said.
His son has not changed or embellished his story, although he knows people will question their sighting.
"I ain't got nothing to hide," Dubois said.
Delrie, owner of the logging company, said Whitstine and Dubois are very trustworthy and honest men who do their job in a professional manner and have been with his company for a number of years.
Delrie said that when Whitstine told him about the Tuesday sighting he believed him but had to have proof.
It was after the sighting on Thursday that the reality of the situation sank in.
"Earl called me up and said, 'I need for you to come down here now,'" Delrie said.
"I noticed a change in (Whitstine's) voice." When he came to the scene and saw the tracks, Delrie said, he totally believed that his men had seen a strange creature in those woods.
"I looked around the site to see if it was a prank.
And that six-and-a-half foot stride ... no man could have done that," Delrie said.
Delrie said he trusts Whitstine with his expensive logging equipment and that he is lucky to have a solid logging crew working for him.
"The Lord blessed me with them tremendously. You don't know what a (relief) it is knowing they're out there doing their job and doing it well, and I'm not babysitting them," Delrie said.
Delrie said his company has a contract with International Paper and that IP officials are strict about who works for them.
"IP said Earl has the No. 1 crew. They love Earl's crew," Delrie said.
Ward said at first she wasn't scared living there even after hearing about the sightings of the creature.
But now that the initial excitement has begun to wear off, she said she won't be going into the woods alone anytime soon.
"I'm a little uneasy," she said. "I don't think it'd hurt me, but I know it's there now."
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