During the early 1970s, a family living in Fouke, just outside Texarkana, Akansas, reported an encounter with a large hominid that had attempted to enter their home. A host of sightings followed, as well as reports that the creature was responsible for attacks on both livestock and dogs. A bounty by a local radio station saw large numbers of amateur hunters descend on Fouke. Some searchers came across sets of strange, three-toed footprints, but they have since been generally discredited as a hoax.
Given the description of what has become know variously as the Fouke Monster or Boggy Creek Monster, the obvious conclusion, if one assumes that both creatures exist, is that the creature seen in Arkansas was a sasquatch. With eyewitness reports between 1971 and 1974 describing it as around seven feet in height, barrel-chested and weighing upwards of 300lb, the Fouke Monster closely resembles descriptions of what is perhaps the most famous of all cryptozoology species: bigfoot. Glowing eyes and a foul smell similar to a skunk were also reported, again traits it shares with bigfoot. However, the sightings were a long way from the traditional heartland of bigfoot sightings, coming generally along the border between Texas and Arkansas rather than the dense forests of the Pacific Northwest.
While reports of a creature that became known as the Fouke Monster became more widely known from 1971 onwards, early sightings stretch back to nearly 20 years earlier. The first reports appear to have surfaced in around 1953, while in 1955 a 14-year old boy claimed to have seen a large, ape-like creature with reddish fur. Out hunting and armed with a shotgun loaded with lightweight birdshot, the teenager stated that the creature seemed unfazed even after being shot at. After media interest in the creature spiked following the 1971 sighting, many Fouke residents claim that rumours of a strange creature living in the nearby woods had been relatively commonplace since at least the mid-1940s.
The most famous sighting allegedly occurred on the 2nd May 1971. A woman named Elizabeth Ford, sleeping on a sofa in her Fouke home, claimed to have seen a large creature reach through her screen window. The creature was chased off by Elizabeth’s husband and brother-in-law, who stated they had shot the thing multiple times with no apparent effect. A subsequent search found three-toed footprints leading away from the home.
The creature was seen again three weeks later, after a motorist and his two passengers claimed to have seen it crossing Highway 71. Further sightings followed, as did the discovery of more footprints. As reports grew, a Little Rock radio station offered a $1,000 bounty for anyone able to catch the creature. A number of hunters descended on the area, resulting in a temporary ban on firearms in the area to protect the public and at least three people receiving fines for filing a fraudulent report.
While reports initially tailed off, they spiked again in 1973 following the release of The Legend of Boggy Creek, a horror film based on the sightings. Sporadic sightings have continued ever since, including a 1991 report where it was supposedly seen leaping from a bridge and a spate of 40 sightings in 1997.
Many experts believe the reports to be a combination of hoaxes and misidentified encounters with known animal species, mostly black bears. Academics at Southern Arkansas University, including archaeologist Frank Schambach, dismissed the footprints as ‘99% chance…they are a hoax’, focusing on how no known primates have three toes. By 1986, both the mayor and sheriff of Fouke dismissed the tracks as man-made and the sightings as a hoax.