Scientists generally view Bigfoot, the towering, hirsute recluse that reputedly roams the forests of northern Califoria and the Pacific Northwest, as nothing more than a mashup of hoaxes, hype and modern folklore. But in the unlikely event that paranormal searchers someday emerge from the woods with a specimen of the giant humanoid monster on a leash, it would raise a difficult question for federal wildlife and environmental regulators. Should Bigfoot become a protected species under the Endangered Species Act? Presuming that it exists, a strong case could be made that the monster fits the criteria. It evidently is rare, its forest habitat is shrinking, and it arguably has been the victim of commercial overutilization, given the thriving trade in Bigfoot caps, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and even $38 plaster casts made from reputed Bigfoot footprints.
Proactive local governments, however, have not waited for proof of Bigfoot’s existence to take steps to preserve our precious megafauna cryptid humanoids. In 1969, for example, Skamania County in Washington state enacted an ordinance making “premeditated willful and wanton slaying of any such creature” a felony punishable by a sentence of up to five years in county jail and a fine as high as $10,000. In 1984, the law was amended to make it even more stringent, by giving the county medical examiner the option of certifying a slain creature as humanoid and upgrading the charge to homicide.
Incidentally, Skamania County isn’t the only jurisdiction in the U.S. to afford legal protection to creatures whose existence has not been verified. Both Vermont and New York state have passed legislation to safeguard Champ, the plesiosaur-like creature that some believe inhabits Lake Champlain.