An Oklahoma state representative came up with one of the most strange tourism promotions to attract visitors to Southeast Oklahoma. State Rep. Justin Humphrey recently proposed a bill to allow people to capture the mythical Bigfoot, which does not really exist. The bill first asked the state to set aside $25,000 as a bounty to anyone who catches it. But earlier this month, Humphrey said the bounty ballooned to over $2 million.
The Republican politician's bill never made it out of committee debates, but he told CNHI Oklahoma on March 3 that it still did what he wanted it to do. News of his bill promoted interest in Southeast Oklahoma, which he claims has the ninth-most "sightings" of Bigfoot in the world. Humphrey thought he would need to work with the state wildlife department to issue hunting licenses, but he learned he could go through the state tourism department. They can issue tracking permits since the hunters are asked to capture Bigfoot, not kill it.
Next, Humphrey hopes state tourism officials can help him set up "Sasquatch Quest" rules for Bigfoot believers. While the first rule of fight club is to never talk about fight club, the first rule of this quest is to make sure Bigfoot is captured unharmed and no other laws are broken. "We've got to get some language, make sure that we protect Bigfoot and that we protect the public (so) that nobody is injured," Humphrey said.
At first, Humphrey wanted the bounty to be just $25,000, with the state funding the project. However, movie producers have pledged about $2 million and another private business offered $100,000. That means the state will no longer have to fund the bounty.
With the funding concerns out of the way, Humphrey told CNHI Oklahoma the state tourism board is already working on a Bigfoot marketing campaign that will include decals, tracking licenses, license plates, and even Bigfoot "checkout stations." They are also printing maps to show tourists the best places where Bigfoot "sightings" have been recorded. Proceeds will go to maintaining Oklahoma's lakes parks and roadways.
"We're having fun with it," Humphrey explained. "It's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it. But at the same time, I know a lot of people thought I was crazy. But, I think if people chill out, (they could) see that this could be a serious deal bringing in a lot of money, a lot of tourism."
While Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who also serves as the state's secretary of tourism and branding, said no legislation would be needed for this idea, he has some understandable reservations. "We were concerned with his idea of sending people into the woods to trap a Bigfoot," Pinnell explained. "(We) certainly didn't want to harm any individuals or Bigfoots for that matter."