Filmmaker continues quest to prove existence of ‘primate’
Standing claims to have had multiple encounters with a troop of Bigfoot that he says live between Banff and Kootenay National Park.
The Edmonton native has multiple videos, which he says, is evidence of these encounters, but acknowledges that videos may never be enough to convince the public.
One of the videos is of an unidentified animal moving in an unusual way.
"I've had film experts look at it and they said that's raw footage," Standing says. "So if it's raw footage, and a man couldn't have done that, what was it? And my answer is, it's a new species of primate."
His goal: gain legal recognition and species protection for what he says would be "the closest living primate to human beings."
Standing says he's offering a $2-million reward out for anyone who can produce a Bigfoot body, or significant piece of a body that has died of natural causes.
A wealthy individual offered to provide the reward after accompanying Standing on an expedition. Standing believes that providing DNA will be the final piece of his puzzle, and that the Canadian Government will allow protection of the species.
While not wholly discounting Standing's work, Anne-Marie Syslak, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society's Southern Alberta Chapter, says that as of yet, Standing has proved nothing.
"If they find Bigfoot and can prove that this is an endangered species then that is something that we could get involved in and advocate for the protection and the preservation of a species," Syslak said.
"But to date we don't know that this species exists, so we need to focus on species that we do know exist and their problems, as well as the health and ecological integrity of the park."
In 2005, Standing was working on a paper aiming to prove why Bigfoot was just a myth.
With the belief that the Rocky Mountains could not provide a sustainable environment for an animal of that nature, he went to research in the forest between Kootenay National Park and Banff.
Joined by a Cree Nations Elder, a biologist and a paramedic, Standing says he shot two pieces of video that immediately disproved his paper's theory.
He says that during his first encounter with Bigfoot, he had a hard time accepting the experience. He originally believed that what he was seeing was a man in a costume, and that the First Nations people had been trying to scare people out of that particular area.
It was the way that the animal moved that caused him to question it.
"I wanted to get up on that ridge where I saw that animal and catch that man and take that suit off," Standing says passionately.
But as soon as he could figure out how to get up to where the animal was, it was gone, he says. Standing recalls that the tracks showed that the animal would have had to rock-climb a large distance and then leap across a large gully, something he says just wasn't humanly possible.
Standing says that when he came to terms with his realization that the animal was real, it was like "a punch in the face." Standing eventually began to tell people that not only was the animal real, but that he had a first-hand experience with it.
"I became passionate about the reality of the species," he says.
In 2006, Standing made a mini-documentary on his findings and toured around Western Canada, doing showings and collecting signatures on a petition to get the species protected.
Going in to the woods and collecting evidence has by no means been easy for the researcher. He has faced dangerous encounters with bears and cougars, and his team even had to call search and rescue when he went missing for three days during an expedition.
He is a husband and father, and says these experiences have not been easy on his family.
He says he looks forward to the day when he no longer feels he has to risk his life trying to prove that Bigfoot exists.
If the species were to become legally recognized, Standing plans to have his research taken over by zoologists and primatologists who can continue to study the animals.
He says he hopes that his work will make a significant impact on the scientific community and that studying primates will be made easier since researchers would no longer have to travel to other continents just to find them.
For now Standing's goal remains the same: gain enough evidence to prove that the species exists.
Although he continues to search for a body during his expeditions, another option is to gain enough public support with other forms of evidence. Last month Standing worked with the crew from the "Animal Planet" series "Finding Bigfoot" who filmed an episode that featured Standing and his work.
He has also been in negotiation with other cable networks such as Discovery Channel, Paranormal Channel and Outdoor Life Network, the latter of which includes Les (Survivorman) Stroud.
By working with someone like Stroud, who has an abundance of wilderness experience, and a large fan base, Standing believes that it might be possible to produce quality footage that would propel his mission forward with public support.
Another bigfoot seeker, Gary Cronin, says that to get species protection without DNA and gain public support, Standing would need to produce clearer videos than the ones he has previously released.
Although Cronin, who is a researcher for the California-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, says he is unable to confirm whether Standing's work is accurate, he believes that Standing does have good intentions, and that their missions are one in the same: to get DNA evidence and prove that Bigfoot exists.
Cronin's organization was founded in 1995 and is dedicated to investigating bigfoot reports across North America.
Cronin also says that Standing is not alone in his claims of spotting Bigfoot in the Banff area. He says that there has been a long history of credible reports from the last 100 years of sightings within the Rocky Mountain slopes.
- By ROXANNE BLACKWELL