Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bigfoot encounter in central Illinois?

Bloomington man says huge creature hit his car.

Peoria Star Journal

FUNKS GROVE – He has such names as Bigfoot, Yeti and Sasquatch, and he may be lurking around central Illinois, according to Tom Biscardi.

Biscardi, a California resident, believes Bigfoot is more than a legend and has been hunting the creature since 1973. The founder of Searching for Bigfoot Inc. is convinced a rural area near Funks Grove can support two of the creatures he says would weigh around 350 pounds each. After visiting the area this week, he said there are enough small rodents, grubs and vegetation for the hairy pair to munch.

“Nobody in the field is doing this like us. They’re not in the firing trenches, not braving the temperatures, there’s plenty of places that those creatures can be concealed,” Biscardi said. “There may be a little hub there. Don’t be too surprised to see a bear in the springtime. I have a feeling.”

Biscardi and a four-man team of animal trappers traveled to Funks Grove early this week armed with infrared cameras, thermal imagers, motion cameras and tranquilizer guns.

The Bigfoot search team was drawn to the area this week by a phone call last summer from Bloomington resident Chris Vielhak. Vielhak said he saw a large black creature he thought at first was a bear run behind his 1990 Mustang as he drove slowly down State Route 66. After he felt a slap to the side of his car, Vielhak said he was startled and sped away to discover five large claw marks on the trunk. Vielhak called Biscardi after doing some research on the Internet.

“It kept bugging me and fascinated me about what hit my car, and it ticked me off because paint jobs cost money,” said Vielhak, 31. “Many people may not believe me, that’s up to them. I walked with Tom and took him to where I saw it.”

Bob Schmalzbach, secretary for Searching for Bigfoot Inc., said the marks are not distinct enough to indicate the kind of creature that may have made them. Vielhak said he has no plans for wildlife experts to inspect the marks.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris McCloud said there has never been a public demand to check possible sightings of a Bigfoot.

The IDNR deals with animals native to Illinois, and Bigfoot is not one of them, he said.

Andrea Frampton can be reached at (309) 686-3041 or