LEETONIA- A local group of Bigfoot researchers is seeking information about Columbiana County sightings.
The Genoskwa Project, a Bigfoot research and investigation group founded by Paul Hayes of Canton and Dan Baker of Sebring, will hold an information session at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Leetonia Community Public Library, 181 N. Walnut St.
According to Baker, the group is seeking information about four reported Bigfoot sightings this year near Franklin Square, including one in which two alleged Bigfoot stopped traffic on the state Route 45 hill south of Salem on July 7. He said all information collected from residents with personal experiences with a Bigfoot is held in strict confidence.
In addition to seeking information, the group will share evidence of Bigfoot, the reported sightings of which are prevalent in Ohio, Baker said. He said some of the items that will be shared include a footprint cast from the famed Patterson-Gimlin film in 1967 that shows a midtarsal break, indicating a difference from that of an arched human foot; a film that shows the 21-degree difference in gait between Bigfoot and humans; first-hand experiences from the researchers including reported sightings by Hayes in Stark County and Baker in Carroll County; and audio recordings of possible Bigfoot. There will also be a question-and-answer session and an opportunity for one-on-one sharing of experiences.
Baker said the amateur researchers started the group just over two years ago following Hayes' sighting in Stark County and that it takes reports, investigates sightings in the field to discover evidence and hopefully offers answers to residents about the happenings. The group has investigated 10 to 15 reported sightings in Carroll County and several in Columbiana County. It is traveling to DuBois, Pa., at the end of the month to investigate a reported sighting.
Due to the elusiveness of Bigfoot, Baker said verification of sightings is difficult, but footprint casts, audio recordings and tree snaps can be used.
"This year is probably the most active year in forever," Baker estimated. "There have been numerous reports of sightings, howls and screams. Right now Ohio ranks number four in the country in reported sightings, but I bet if people came forward (with their experiences) we'd be two or three."
Baker said Bigfoot typically stand 7 to 9 feet tall and sightings have indicated human features. He said they are very intelligent creatures which usually run away from humans.
Baker noted that the Genoskwa is a bigger, more hostile cousin of Bigfoot with a stone appearance and red eyes. iroquois legend tells of Genoskwa that would raid villages and steal villagers to eat by snapping and beheading its victims, he said, evidence of which can be found from deer carcasses during investigations.
The Genoskwa Project wants to create a positive atmosphere where the public can learn more about Bigfoot and share their experiences without persecution, Baker explained.
"We're not going out there and trying to convince people [Bigfoot] exist," he said. "All we're asking is people to keep an open mind. We want to speak to people who have had experiences (with Bigfoot) and work with them."