By BOB COUPLAND
WARREN The mysterious creature that has been in the news for years has apparently been seen in Ohio, which is among the top five states for the most sightings reported according to Doug Waller of the Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigations.
Waller and others were the recent speakers at the program "In Search of Bigfoot" held at the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library.
"There is great interest in Bigfoot across the state of Ohio. The word Bigfoot is no longer taboo. It is a name that can be brought into the open,'' Waller said, noting the television shows such as ''Finding Bigfoot'' have changed the views of Bigfoot from being silly to being taken more seriously.
Waller said he became interested in Bigfoot in the 1970s and 1980s
He said at public meetings held by the society, stories are shared by people who have seen the creature.
"These are the stories that I want to hear about the encounters and sightings," he said, noting he takes the stories from people and writes the information down.
The group's first meeting was attended by 73 people at Camrbridge Library in November 2008. Often attending are witnesses, researchers and investigators.
"People from all over Ohio and Pennsylvania attend," Waller said.
He said the states with the most Bigfoot sightings are in the Pacific Northwest, including Washington and Oregon, but Ohio is among the top five.
"For every sighting reported there are 10 that go unreported. There have been 219 Ohio sightings, which is a lot more than what I thought," he said.
Waller said reports include sounds and screams.
Steve Blair said there was a woman traveling on state Route 20 in Ashtabula heading west when she thought she saw someone on a dirt bike in a field. He said she reported when the large creature came closer to her vehicle, it was long-waisted and stood upright but covered its face when it saw the car headlights.
"We went on the property. There were 18-inch tracks ... found in the cornfield. There was also a brush pile which was a possible nesting area,'' Blair said.
Blair said plans are to go there again and look around.
''The property owner said he saw nothing in the field but was interested after we told him what the woman saw and what we found,'' he said.
Corky Markle, who owns a 7-acre property in the Lisbon area, said he has heard cries, whoops and howls from something in the woods trying to intimidate his dog.
"The dog goes crazy. My 14-year-old son went to check on the dog and saw two large golf-ball-size red eyes in the woods and something jumping in the trees,'' he said.
Markle said plans are to use infrared cameras to collect evidence. He said he has seen large footprints and believes something has urinated on his property.
For information, call 740-624-5122.