Texas has no position on the existence of bigfoot -- but go on, hunt it anyway.
John Lloyd Scharf, a bigfoot fan from Oregon, emailed the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department last week about hunting unknown creatures.
Chief of staff Lt. David. Sinclair told FoxNews.com he responded with a straight description of the law -- which hinges not on whether the mythical beast exists, but on precisely how the government would label it.
“The statute that you cite (Section 61.021) refers only to game birds, game animals, fish, marine animals or other aquatic life. Generally speaking, other nongame wildlife is listed in Chapter 67 (nongame and threatened species) and Chapter 68 (nongame endangered species),” Sinclair wrote back to Scharf.
“An exotic animal is an animal that is non-indigenous to Texas. Unless the exotic is an endangered species, then exotics may be hunted on private property with landowner consent.”
The law boils down to provenance, Scharf decided. If bigfoot is indigenous to Texas, it can be killed.
'We’ve got hundreds of sightings going back decades. I don’t think we’d have any problem proving it’s indigenous.'
- Brian Brown, the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy
But Sinclair told FoxNews.com his response has been taken wildly out of context.
“This guy never really alluded to bigfoot, though it seems maybe he said something about Sasquatch,” Sinclair told FoxNews.com. “He took my statement and said that it was safe to hunt an ‘indigenous cryptid,’ whatever that is. He misquoted me.”
Scharf did not respond to several FoxNews.com requests for more information. But the rules Sinclair cites are clear: It would be legal to shoot Sasquatch.
“Nongame” means wildlife indigenous to Texas that aren’t deer, sheep, geese, alligators, or any other animal hunted for food. If the Commission doesn’t specifically list a beast -- and needless to say, bigfoot doesn’t make the list -- it isn’t protected.
So is bigfoot a Longhorn? Absolutely, said Brian Brown, media coordinator for the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy.
“We’ve got hundreds of sightings going back decades. I don’t think we’d have any problem proving it’s indigenous. We think they’re all over the region,” Brown told FoxNews.com.
Oregon resident Scharf worried that the policy could be interpreted as “kill it first, ID it after.” He thinks it could even lead to premature extinction of the Bigfoot species.
“Individuals of an unknown species, and therefore not be listed as ‘endangered’ under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, could be exterminated without criminal or civil repercussions – essentially causing extinction?” he asked on an enthusiast bulletin board.
Brown argued that killing a bigfoot is a necessary way to prove its existence.
“Our primary mission is to conserve these animals. They cannot be conserved until they are accepted as fact. They will not be accepted as fact until a type specimen is produced. It's as simple as that,” he wrote on the group’s website, texasbigfoot.com.
Laws prevent hunters from killing people, of course. Such regulations wouldn’t govern bigfoot, Brown told FoxNews.com.
“It’s not murder, it’s an animal,” he said. “They don’t do anything that makes you think that they’re humans or some lost tribe. They don’t really have attributes or do anything that one typically associates with humans.”
Open-minded Sasquatch seekers in the Lone Star State all seem positive that the numerous regional sightings mean something is out there.
"I have been immersed in Sasquatch research for a number of years, and I can tell you in my mind a mountain of evidence supports the existence of these creatures," Ken Gerhard, a San Antonio cryptozoologist who co-wrote "Monsters of Texas," recently told the Houston Chronicle.
Gerhard, who also heads up the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization, said Texas has one of the nation’s highest incidents of bigfoot reports, outranked only by Washington, California, Oregon, Ohio and Florida.
That doesn’t mean the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is tracking them, of course.
“Here at Parks and Wildlife, we don’t have any evidence that bigfoot exists,” Sinclair told FoxNews.com.
“We don’t want to get drawn into the debate about it.”
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.