A little about Mike Rugg from his website:
Michael Rugg is co-founder of the Bigfoot Discovery Project (BDP) and Curator of The Bigfoot Discovery Museum in Felton CA. The BDP accepts the subject of the Patterson/Gimlin Film as the type specimen for the Pacific Coast Bigfoot or Sasquatch and seeks to create a dialogue about the implications of the impending "discovery of bigfoot" by conventional Western science. They are currently designing the Bigfoot Discovery Museum, scheduled to open in the Santa Cruz Mountains of Central California in the Spring of 2004. Its purpose is to educate the public at large about the probability of bigfoot and the current best guesses as to its habits and its place in the natural world.
As a child, Rugg spent many weekends and holidays on fishing, camping and hunting trips with his parents throughout central and northern California (his father once owned a lumber mill in Garberville). His first bigfoot encounter may have happened on one of those occasions. He has been collecting information and artifacts--while studying unknown bipedal primates--since the early '50's, when the first photos of Yeti tracks on Mt Everest appeared in Western newspapers. Starting as a scrapbook of clipped articles, it grew into a collection of related books, images and miscellaneous memorabilia. Rugg has lived in Felton, next to one of the last stands of first growth redwoods left in central California, since he was 13.
While an undergraduate at Stanford he delved further into his bipedal primate research via the microfiche and dusty old stacks of the university library. In March of 1967, he wrote a paper for an anthropology class (at that point, a culmination of 16 years of study) stating that the "Abominable Snowman Question" deserved further scientific research, accompanied by a map highlighting Bluff Creek as the place to find one of the "unknown" primates right here in California. The professor was not convinced, but did give him a "C" rather than the "F" that he had promised when Rugg first told him the paper's subject and intent. (Note: the Patterson/Gimlin film was shot just seven months later right where the map predicted.) Unimpressed with academe and the closed-minded attitude of his would-be mentor, Rugg abandoned his plan to pursue a second major in Paleoanthropology, left school, and opened an art studio next to his brother's woodshop in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
1. Chris B: Mike, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview over the phone. It's an honor to have you and I know the members at the Bigfoot Forums feel the same way.
Q: First of all, we've all been concerned about your recent health scare my friend, How are you?
Mike Rugg: I'm better now, I've had to change a few things with my diet and they have me on some medication now but I feel good. I guess the years of excess, eating whatever I wanted, have finally caught up with me. A change was in order.
Q: What first got you interested in the Bigfoot subject?
Mike Rugg: I first became interested in the subject as a child. I had my first encounter/sighting in 1950, I was 4 years old. Since this was prior to any real media exposure about the creatures, the only people to have known about the creatures were the actual witnesses. So my interest came natural after my encounter.
2. Q: That's very exciting. Can you describe what the creature looked like?
Mike Rugg: I remember it was very large. I was just a small child but I remember that it was huge, broad shoulders, covered in dark hair. I got the impression I was looking at a large hairy man. I remember there was what appeared to be part of a shirt draped over it's shoulder. This was a very brief encounter, perhaps about a 3 count. My parents called me, I told them what I had seen and of course upon further investigation, it was gone.
3. Q: Everyone seems to have a different opinion as to what these creatures are. What do you think Bigfoot/Sasquatch may be?
Mike Rugg: I think we have a multifaceted event going on World wide. Simply because there are alot of different beings reported. I believe we only need to look to the fossil record to determine what they are.
The Yeti in Asia by description and by the observations of it's locomotion, appears to be a type of ape. Fossils from Gigantopithecus are found in Asia and well documented.
We also have the Orang Pendek reports in Sumatra. Sightings of a small hairy man like creature. In 2003, small human like fossils were discovered on the remote island of Flores in the Indonesian archipelago. This new species is called Homo floresiensis.
As for North America , we have Homo Heidelbergensis. And there is now evidence to suggest there was also some interbreeding taking place with some species of primitive man. Another thing, we have to keep in mind is that there are feral humans as well. There are those species of Homo Sapien Sapien that for whatever reason decided to abandon society and live in the wild. So again, I think we have a multifaceted event and it's happening World wide.
4. Q: There's been alot of discussion on the Bigfoot Forums about the Sierra Bigfoot shootings and also the Ketchum DNA study. Have you been following either of these and if so, what's your opinion?
Mike Rugg: Yes I've been following both and it seems to me that both are a bit volatile subjects for comment at the moment. About the only thought I would like to convey is let's wait and see.
5. Q: There seems to be two schools of thought to proving Bigfoot exists, kill or no-kill, which best describes your thoughts and why?
Mike Rugg: Well that's a no brainer. Whether ape or human why kill them? They could be studied in their own environment and we could learn far more about them if someone was to take a Dr Jane Goodall approach.
6. Q: What's your opinion on infrasound? Do you think Bigfoot uses infrasound?
Mike Rugg: I've read that there is scientific proof of infrasound. I've had people describe it to me. So I'm open to the concept they do have that type of ability.
7. Q: What will it take to prove to the scientific community that these creatures exist? What evidence is required?
Mike Rugg: I think some tissue in a lab, or perhaps a body part. Tissue that can be replicated would likely be great evidence. The labs are gonna have to rethink how they do their testing. Too many times samples have been disregarded because there was a "human factor" present in the results. They need to understand that these creatures may be human in part and they definitely need to stop throwing out samples that have this factor with the common claim of "specimen contamination". Just because there is a human factor present does NOT mean the specimen was contaminated at the time of collection. These creatures may very well have a human factor within their DNA and if so, so be it. We need to learn from the results and not throw them out.
8. Q: If Bigfoot was proven to exist tomorrow, what do you think our role as modern humans should be?
Mike Rugg: If they have a language and communicate, I think we should treat them as people. They should have all the normal rights and protections bestowed on them as anyone else has.
9. Q: But what if they're determined to be a species of great ape without any form of language?
Mike Rugg: In that case I think we should study them but from a distance. This would be the situation where someone could take the Dr Jane Goodall stance and study them at a distance, to learn from them but at the same time not intrude on them. I think that funding would finally become available for this type of approach. And that's what we're lacking at the moment, funding. We could do great things in my own research areas if only the funding were available.
10. Q: Any thoughts on the Erickson Project?
Mike Rugg: I'm hoping it will turn out to be something great. I've heard there may be around 40 clips with some in HD. I've not seen the clips personally but I hope they all turn out to be genuine. The clips need to be released together with the Ketchum DNA study. I am a bit concerned about some (one) of the individuals Mr Erickson has associated himself with. I would hope Mr. Erickson would not associate himself or his project with anyone that could take away from the credibility of this work.
11. Q: Mike, we spoke earlier of the Ketchum DNA Study that's still ongoing. I'll come right out and ask, is the tooth you found included in that part of the study?
Mike Rugg: I can say that there was some material collected from the tooth that is still in Dr Melba Ketchum's possession. From what I understand it will not be used in this study as the material collected from the tooth is more ancient and they wanted modern DNA samples. I currently have possession of the tooth now, but Dr Ketchum still retains the samples collected from it.
12. Q: What's the most convincing evidence for the existence of Bigfoot in your opinion?
Mike Rugg: I'd have to say the combined eyewitness testimony, the Patterson Gimlin film and the new DNA work being done.
Chris B: Once again thank you Mike for taking the time to do this interview. It was an honor to speak with you again my friend.
Mike Rugg: My pleasure. I also have some video interviews available on youtube, just type in "Bigfoot Discovery Museum".