A right to bear witness to Bigfoot

After her own personal encounter with the creature, a California woman sues the state and multiple state agencies, requesting the court order them to recognize Bigfoot as a mammal indigenous to the area.

Image: NH1 News, (Courtesy of Google Images)

Trekking a California trail with her two daughters, Claudia Ackley found herself face-to-face with a large, barrel-chested figure gazing right back at her. In a heroic call to action, Ackley began “whooping” at the creature, which was located approximately 30 feet up a pine tree, in an attempt to drive it off.  In response, the creature shook the tree, causing limbs to snap and fall to the ground.  One of Ackley’s daughters then noticed two smaller figures scurry off into the woods away from the three hikers.  At first, Ackley believed what she saw in the tree was a bear; however, because the creature was approximately 800 pounds and hairy, she sensibly concluded it was, indeed, not a bear.

Claudia Ackley knows the truth, though.  Claudia Ackley knows that the large creature gazing back at her on that day was Bigfoot.

A person less reasonable than Ackley likely may have assumed the large creature to be one of the many bears which reside in the Golden State, the state flag of which, coincidentally, displays a large bear.  Claudia Ackley knows the truth, though.  Claudia Ackley knows that the large creature gazing back at her on that day was Bigfoot.  Armed with only her wits and knowledge of Bigfoot lore, Ackley scared the beast off, protecting not only herself and her children, but, as one could presume, all of California.

“If it was a bear, there would be claw marks on the tree,” Ackley explained in an interview shortly after the encounter.  Ackley has since revisited the site of the encounter.  Near the tree in which the alleged Bigfoot was perched, Ackley has been leaving snacks for the sasquatch.  She leaves fruits, corn chips, and cans of Coca-Cola.  In an effort to communicate with the being, Ackley has left words such as “candy” and “fur” coupled with pictures or samples of each in an effort “to teach them a little bit of our language to communicate with them.”

The state of California and its agencies have buried their heads in the sand and refuse to acknowledge Bigfoot’s existence.  In response, on January 18, 2018, Ackley filed suit in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Bernardino.  Ackley teamed up documentary filmmaker Todd Standing, producer of the film Discovering Bigfoot, in filing this action.  The full complaint can be viewed here, courtesy of Gizmodo.

In paragraph 1 of the complaint, Ackley presents “overwhelming facts” supporting the existence of Bigfoot.  Among the facts listed is a declaration that thousands of people have personally seen Bigfoot, an article from a 1958 publication of the Humboldt Times, and an allusion to the existence of the beast made by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1892.  “Overwhelming” does not even begin to describe the veracity of this evidence. In an interview with The Sun, Ackley stated, “if this goes to court, we will win easily. It’s not a joke. The best wilderness experts in the world are coming out to testify. It’s amazing.”  Indeed, a win for Ackley and Standing under these circumstances would be “amazing.”

Ackley is seeking a writ of mandate… commanding Respondents to recognize Sasquatch as a hominoid or primate type of species, also known as Bigfoot, and as an indigenous mammal living within the State of California.

The complaint lists four respondents: The State of California, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), the State of California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Secretary of the CNRA, John Laird.  Ackley pleads three causes of action.  First, Ackley alleges that the CDFW has violated CDFW code section 1008 by failing to “investigate all diseases of, and problems relating to, birds, mammals, or fish, and establish and maintain laboratories to assist in such investigation.”  Second, Ackley alleges that the CDFW has failed to fulfill its mandated mission statement.  According to the mission statement, the CDFW’s mission is to “manage California’s diverse fish, wildlife, and plant resources, and the habitats upon which they depend, for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.”  Third, Ackley alleges that the CNRA has failed to maintain its mission statement.  That mission statement reads, [the CNRA’s mission is] “to restore, protect and manage the state’s natural, historical and cultural resources for current and future generations using creative approaches and solutions based on science, collaboration and respect for all the communities and interests involved.”

Ackley prays for relief in the form of both a writ of mandate and declaratory relief.  Ackley is seeking a writ of mandate, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1085, “commanding Respondents to recognize Sasquatch as a hominoid or primate type of species, also known as Bigfoot, and as an indigenous mammal living within the State of California.”

Issuing a writ of mandate regarding the existence of Sasquatch would likely require CDFW and CNRA to treat the species similarly to any other recognized mammal.  This is rather hilarious to think about.  While Ackley, Todd Standing, and thousands of other Bigfoot “eyewitnesses” firmly believe the beef-jerky mascot is the real deal, there are some skeptics.  Aside from these dissenters, who could deny the value of requiring the CDFW and CNRA to reroute research and conservation dollars from other known wildlife, and funnel them into much needed research regarding this 800-pound hairy creature?

Ackley believes California’s wanton disregard for the truth has had a chilling effect on the study of Sasquatch.

Additionally, Ackley is seeking declaratory relief, asserting, “Respondents infringed the constitutional rights of petitioner as it relates to her concerns regarding Sasquatch,” and that “Respondents committed a dereliction of duty, in regard to recognizing and protecting the Sasquatch species, a hominoid or primate, also known as Bigfoot.”  Ackley believes California’s wanton disregard for the truth has had a chilling effect on the study of Sasquatch.  She, as well as others like her, believe their commitment to study Sasquatch has been relegated to a paranormal hobby, generating skepticism as to the “overwhelming evidence” that has been produced on the subject.  Ackley promises to unveil the extent of this evidence in court.

Seen by many as a hobby for quacks, Ackley is currently unable to take people on commercial wildlife expeditions to witness Sasquatch in the same way that other guides are paid to escort customers to witness wildlife in defined operating areas.  California apparently thinks such an activity would be “fraudulent.”  Of course, it is only fraudulent in California’s eyes as a result of the state’s willful refusal to believe in Sasquatch.

Worse yet, Ackley claims that “Respondents’ denial of the existence of Sasquatch is tantamount to an infringement of petitioner’s fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, the right to freely impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, and the right to be free from cruel and unusual treatment.”  Ackley takes a fascinating approach here.  While the complaint does not further set out how California’s denial of the existence of Sasquatch infringes upon Ackley’s right to be free from cruel and unusual treatment, a phrase usually limited to situations involving imprisonment, torture, and conditions of confinement, Ackley will supposedly support this argument with even more overwhelming evidence.

Ackley’s hearing is set for March 19.  How California will respond to Ackley is unimaginable.  Perhaps it will remove its head from the sand and become enlightened by the mountain of evidence put on by Ackley.  Perhaps it will remain closed-minded, playing it safe because the state has no faith.  Either way, this is bound to be a landmark case in American jurisprudence, unlikely to be forgotten in the upcoming weeks. As Paragraph 15 of Ackley’s complaint reads, “there are knowledge gaps in respect of Sasquatch.”  To this point, she is likely more correct there than she realizes.

If you or a loved one has come in contact with a Sasquatch, please do not hesitate to contact these people.

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About Blake Drewry (14 Articles)
Blake Drewry is a third year law student and serves as an Associate Editor for the Campbell Law Observer. Originally from Courtland, Virginia, Blake received his undergraduate degree from East Carolina University where he majored in Political Science and Philosophy. His legal interests include local government law, land use and zoning law, and sports law. The summer after his 1L year, he worked for the General Counsel at the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. This past summer he worked at the Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.