You thought Bigfoot was dead, didn't you?

Well, maybe not really dead in the sense that we have a big hairy corpse and a proper burial, with lots of Glade air freshener on hand (legend has it he smells bad), but you probably thought the idea of Bigfoot had been buried about a year ago.

That's when a couple of guys in Georgia made a big media splash by claiming to have such a corpse – a frozen one they either stumbled on in the woods, followed after it had been shot by a former felon or discovered near a family of Bigfeet in the woods. They used each explanation at various times.

But when the hairy mass melted, it turned out to be a gorilla costume, complete with rubber feet.

You may have thought it died with Ray Wallace, who reported Bigfoot sightings in 1958 after huge footprints were found near a logging camp where he worked. He left this mortal world about seven years ago, after which his family finally admitted it all had been a practical joke, perpetrated with a 16-inch wooden model of a foot. Ol' Ray was a kidder.

Or maybe you thought it expired when Bob Heironimus came out of the woodwork five years ago and said he starred as the famous Bigfoot in a 1967 film shot by Roger Patterson. You can look that one up on YouTube. It is the clearest picture ever taken of the elusive monster, ambling along in a sort of half-human, half-ape kind of way. Patterson died years ago. His partner, Bob Gimlin said he always thought the Bigfoot was real. But Heironimus said it was just himself in a gorilla suit, ha ha.

But no, it turns out Bigfoot is alive and well, and he may be right here in Utah. At least that's what a bunch of Bigfoot researchers are hoping as they trek through the Ashley National Forest this weekend near the Utah-Wyoming border.

Go to their Web site,, and you'll find references to "class A" sightings by at least 35 people – that is, people who claim to have seen such a creature "clear enough to rule out misinterpretation." Lots more have had "class B" encounters – they've heard something strange in the dark, or seen an indistinct form. That's the stuff of which scout camp legends are made.

I won't rain on their little expedition. I do find it odd, however, that in this age of cell phone cameras and high-resolution satellite imaging, no one has come up with any solid evidence.

But then, we humans need monsters, don't we? We need them to be at the bottom of Loch Ness or Lake Tahoe, and we need them roaming the hard-to-reach parts of our mountains and forests, always just a step ahead of our cameras and guns.

If we can't find them there, we'll find them in politics. Or haven't you noticed? Each major party relies on this basic human need as it paints the other side in broad, monstrously evil strokes. And a segment of the population carries that to a new level. The president isn't just following a political philosophy with which you happen to disagree, he is secretly trying to destroy the nation, enter a secret alliance with Mexico and Canada or pave the way for a socialist revolution.

The former president, of course, drummed up false pretenses to launch a war, just to help his oil buddies. He was going to invade Iran, too, if I recall the conspiracy line. Something must have distracted him.

Of course, a lot of people can't easily travel to Washington and go into the offices of power. That makes it easy to believe folks are mixing cauldrons of evil potions back there, or cutting deals with aliens.

It also makes it easy to ignore the things happening closest to home, in your local governments — which are run by more genial people who actually live near you. The Salt Lake County Council recently voted to raise property taxes to balance the budget. Not a soul showed up to comment.

Maybe too many people had their binoculars trained on Washington.

Bigfoot isn't even close to being dead.

Jay Evensen is editor of the Deseret News editorial page. E-mail: [email protected]. Visit his blog at