Bigfoot investigator Chris Noel holds a plaster cast of a footprint he believes was made by a Sasquatch recently as he stands in a “structure” Wednesday that he says was likely made by a Sasquatch in Montpelier.

EAST MONTPELIER — Is Bigfoot living in central Vermont?

If you listen to East Montpelier resident Christopher Noel, there is plenty of evidence to justify such a claim – something that has captured the attention of locals on social media in recent days.

Recent posts by Noel present videos of locations in the woods near his home where footprints and stick shelters constructed have been found, as well as audio recordings he made that include strange calls that are not those of “normal” woodland animals.

Noel is convinced they are all made by Bigfoot.

Bigfoot is so-named for the large footprints the creatures create. Sasquatch, the other term applied, means “wild man” in Salish, the language of an ethno-linguistic group of the Pacific Northwest where there have been numerous reported sightings and alleged evidence found. In North American folklore, the creatures are said to be hairy, upright-walking, ape-like creatures that dwell in the wilderness and leave footprints. Depictions often portray them as a missing link between humans and human ancestors or other great apes.

But many critics say the creature, which has been “sighted” in nearly every U.S. state, is mythical or the subject of hoaxes.

Noel is convinced the elusive species is real.

Noel is a Yale University philosophy graduate who previously taught at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. He is the author of numerous books and writings on the Bigfoot, including one that helps identify Sasquatch so-called “stick structures” in the forest attributed to dwellings constructed by the creatures. He also leads “Wild Vermont Expeditions” with targeted trips in Vermont for people interested in immersing themselves in the folklore and legend.

Noel said recent evidence uncovered in the area had led him to go public with his discoveries.

“I have been researching this species quietly and privately for a number of years,” Noel said in an interview Wednesday. “Now I’ve decided to come out ... and reach out to others who may have information to share with me and learn what I have found out, so we can begin to fill in the picture of the habits, the roots and the behavior of our local population.”

Noel was unfazed by questions about the veracity of previous reported sightings recorded on video that were discounted after by anthropologists who declared the creatures were humans disguised as Bigfoot and revealed by their human gait and movement, calling the whole genre into question.

“It’s hard to boil it down, but the best evidence we have so far, even though it’s 51 years old, is the Patterson-Gimlin film, shot in northern California,” Noel said, adding that it was possibly the second most-viewed film footage, after the footage of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in 1963.

The Bigfoot film shot by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in northern California in 1967 allegedly depicts a female Bigfoot, informally known as “Patty,” looking back at Patterson and Gimlin.

“The consensus is, outside of the circle of pure cynics, by people who have analyzed the footage with an open mind, is that limb proportions and the gait are not human,” Noel said. “By all rights, the existence of the species should have been confirmed by that footage.”

Noel said there is other recent evidence from trail camera video in Asia, and even DNA evidence.

“I think anyone who spends even two hours looking into the matter, with skepticism but with an open mind, will come away (thinking differently),” Noel said. “Either the species exists or the tens of thousands of reports that have been filed over the decades by people, witnesses – many who don’t want to use their names for fear of ridicule – all have to be incorrect.”

“If even one of those accounts is correct, then probably most of them are, because it means that the species is real – that’s one way I package it,” he added.

Noel added there is more undeveloped forest in North America than there was 100 years ago, providing ample habitat for the creatures.

“The plausibility of the species having been proven already – if people would simply look into the evidence – is that thousands and thousands of footprints have been found from British Columbia to the top of Florida, and they all share a very tight cluster of anatomical traits,” Noel said.

Noel said he was returning to visit a man in Worcester on Wednesday who said he had heard strange calls in the woods and had recorded the sounds.

“He has heard screams in the middle of the night coming from the mountain that rattled the walls in his house and he’s been a hunter and guide for 40 years and knows all the ordinary sounds of the forest, and had never heard anything remotely like that when he first heard it and has now heard it a bunch of times,” Noel said. “The volume is just on a completely different level, in the sense that it rattles windows and walls, and you can feel it in your chest, even though you know it’s no closer than 100 yards away.”

On the Plainfield People Facebook page, Noel has been asking for further evidence, and the public’s help in sharing information. The posts are being widely shared, and have generated a fair amount of comments (as well as skepticism).

stephen.mills @timesargus.com

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