Is it yipping foxes or a screaming baby Bigfoot that’s been separated from its mama?

That’s what Mission residents want to know after hearing eerie screeching on several nights over the last few months.

Reports of strange noises among residents in Umatilla Reservation Housing units began in November and continued to confuse residents.

What witnesses speculate may be a “young Bigfoot” call, experts explain away as local wildlife, specifically foxes.

Regardless of opinion, the fact remains that the noise exists. Several recordings have been captured and reported to the Wildlife Program for the CTUIR Department Natural Resources, Umatilla Reservation Housing Authority, Tribal Police and to the CUJ.

The noise has been likened to a woman crying or “banshee” screams.

Sylvia Minthorn contacted the CUJ office and said she and her neighbors have heard the noise in the Mission housing projects on several occasions over the past few months. She said the scream is unlike anything she’s heard in the past.

Her neighbor, Minthorn said, recorded the noise on her phone and posted it on YouTube as “bigfoot screams.”

When neighbors began to discuss the late-night noise, complaints began to roll in to URHA.

Interim Housing Director Josh Franken said in all of his 13 years with the tribe he has never encountered anything quite like this. He said he has received at least five reports of the noise and hasn’t quite figured out what he thinks about the matter.

“The first call I received was from a resident that had become very worked up about the noise,”?Franken said. “He was scared that his dogs were scared of whatever it was and the noise was loud enough to drown out the dogs and people in the recording background.”

There have been rumors, Franken said, that residents reported the noise and received word back from a Bigfoot specialist and the rumored verdict is that the noise is of a baby Bigfoot searching for its family.

Franken said he doesn’t necessarily believe in Bigfoot because there has been no proof. He said after all this time on earth there should’ve been confirmed sightings or bones discovered by now.

He did say he thought it was odd for such an unknown noise to surface so suddenly when no one has heard it in the past. The noise is unique, he said, and he’s never heard anything like it before. He also said he’s not an animal expert but the noise has perplexed him and he definitely can’t explain it.

Minthorn said URHA is taking seriously the complaints that have been passed along to the Wildlife Program.

When the CUJ contacted Wildlife Program Manager Carl Sheeler, he already had a response prepared because he said he had heard the recordings from different people several times. He also said he viewed the YouTube video uploaded by a Mission resident containing the noise.

“I listened to it, it sounds like a fox call,” Scheeler said. “If you listen to the tempo and the echo, I’m pretty sure it’s a fox, not Bigfoot.”

He said local residents have been calling him and sending the recordings to his cell phone and some were concerned the noises may be a cougar, which Scheeler did not rule out entirely.

Asked why the noise would surface so suddenly in that area Scheeler said, “They (the foxes) probably found a good little place to live back there and they may be all hunting together.”

He said the “screams” heard could be the foxes calling to each other as they hunt. As for reports of the noise being heard in Adams and near Black Bridge, Scheeler said foxes are fairly common in the area. He said there are quite a few foxes around the entire region.

The breed of fox is not quite as simple to pinpoint, since most of the foxes in the area are a hybrid of red foxes and other breeds. According to his research, Scheeler said that in the 1930s there was a collapse of the fur market that resulted in trappers and breeders releasing several breeds of foxes into the area. After decades of mating they have become crossed and now are a mixed breed unique and native to the area.

Scheeler said, “If you have ever heard a fox call at night, it is a very spooky sound. It can be downright creepy at first.”

After hearing from the experts some residents are relieved yet others remain unconvinced.

Minthorn said she’s heard foxes before and doesn’t think that’s what the noise is.

“I have lived in this area a very long time and I have never heard this before,” she said. “I don’t really believe in Bigfoot, but I’m not sure what it is. My daughter heard it near Yellowhawk. We have been researching all different mammal noises on the Internet for months now and still haven’t come across something similar. I just want to hear something that sounds exactly the same to put my mind at ease. Some people say it’s Bigfoot, some people say it’s Stick Indians, some say it’s foxes. I just want a real answer.”

To listen to recordings of other suspected Oregon Bigfoot encounters visit www.Oregonbigfoot.com. For more information or to report noises contact the URHA at 541-276-7544.

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