A potentially legendary photo-bomber has stolen the spotlight from a bald eagle nest live cam in Beulah.
Social media is abuzz recently with a clip from the camera on a tree near the Platte River State Fish Hatchery, about 30 miles west of Traverse City, to highlight a bald eagle nest. In the footage, baby eaglets peep in the nest, while on the forest floor below, walks through what some think is Bigfoot — the never-confirmed, mythological man-ape-like creature that's spawned many an unwatchable cable TV night-vision camera show.
The live-cam clip was highlighted on the website of Carbon Media Group, a Bingham Farms-based company that specializes in online video content related to the outdoors, and on its YouTube channel. The company partnered with the state Department of Natural Resources to install the eagle cam on state land adjacent to the fish hatchery. It went live last March.
The clip includes a pop-up window zooming in on whatever is roaming below the nest. A dark figure — walking on two legs too much to be a bear — can be seen moving up a wooded slope, pausing on a fallen tree, then leaping down a slope and out of view.
It's definitely Bigfoot. Or a man in an ape suit. Or just a normally dressed guy in silhouette.
"Like most videos purported to be Bigfoot, it's grainy and out of focus — of course, the camera wasn't set up to be focused on the ground; it was focused on the nest," said Ed Eisch, DNR Fish Production manager for the state and the Platte River hatchery.
It's unclear when the footage was shot, though the presence of baby eaglets in the nest puts the time around late May. Messages left with Carbon Media Group were not returned.
Eisch, while admitting he's "not a big, Bigfoot proponent," said he draws no conclusions about what's depicted in the footage.
"I have a nephew who does a really good Bigfoot gait impression," he said. "But I know it wasn't him."
Eisch was based at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery since 2002, but moved to the DNR's Traverse City Customer Service Center last July. "That was for operational efficiencies; not because of fear of any Bigfoots," he said. He added that he never saw any ape-like cryptid slinking around the fish hatchery looking for rustic caviar in his years there.
One of the nation's leading Bigfoot researchers also finds the eagle cam clip intriguing, but inconclusive.
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Jeff Meldrum is a professor of anatomy and anthropology at Idaho State University, and studies the evolution of humans and their ancestors becoming bipeds — walking on two feet. He also studies Bigfoot, having amassed more than 300 footprint casts and conducting frequent field laboratories in the Pacific Northwest. Meldrum is the author of "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science."
"It is an interesting video, but remains just that, given the lack of scale and detail in the image of the figure," he said.
"We're coming up on the 50th anniversary of the still-controversial, Patterson-Gimlin film — a 60-second film clip of much higher quality, about which opinions remain polarized. By contrast, this eagle's nest video doesn't offer much by way of compelling evidence."