After a local news station exposed the story that a University of New Mexico director spent taxpayer money on a Bigfoot-hunting expedition, one lawmaker says no more of that nonsense on the public dime.
Sen George Munoz is sponsoring a bill that would ban public funds from being spent on “looking for or catching a fictitious creature.”
“It’s sad that we have to do this, that they don’t have the ethics, that UNM doesn’t have the ethics to stop this,” Sen. Munoz said. “And now we have to draft bills to stop something that is not morally right,” Sen. Munoz said.
In February of last year, Dr. Christopher Dyer, the Executive Director of UNM-Gallup, ran a conference and expedition to search for evidence for Bigfoot. Dyer received a master’s and Ph.D. in anthropology from Arizona State University and was previously the dean of academic affairs and a tenured professor of anthropology at Missouri State University – West Plains before returning to the southwestern US. The Bigfoot event at UNM was well attended, except by people who might have a more rational view of Bigfoot. Noted cryptozoology researcher Benjamin Radford, who lives in New Mexico, was not invited to the event but Bigfoot advocates were and were paid for their expenses with university funds. According to KRQE, the station that reported on the funding of the event says:
UNM shelled out thousands of dollars for advertising, meals for the guest speakers, airfare, hotels and per diem. Self-professed Bigfoot expert Dr. Jeff Meldrum was handed a $1000 honorarium plus expenses.[…]
Following the two-day conference, Dr. Dyer loaded up his van and hit the road in search of the elusive beast. It may be the first publicly funded Bigfoot expedition in history. Armed with binoculars and other paraphernalia, Dr. Dyer and some of his pals headed to the Sandia’s in search of Bigfoot.
Even though there were no students or faculty on the expedition, UNM paid for everything. There were hotels in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, meals, and mileage. Taxpayers also paid $140 for seven pairs of snowshoes for the field trip participants.
UNM is a state school, funded, in part, by taxpayers of the state.
Dyer, sounding completely clueless about cryptozoology and current standards of scientific research, says he wasn’t aware of Bigfoot skeptics to invite. Had this been a forum for folklore or even anthropology, the conference called “Bigfoot in New Mexico: Evidence, Ecology, and Behavior” might have been defensible but it appeared to assume Bigfoot was a genuine creature. Another speaker, naturalist Robert Kryder, called it a “Public Disclosure Seminar” suggesting it was meant to reveal the creature’s existence in the area! Kryder is a true believer in Bigfoot.
Universities often host paranormal-related events but usually through student clubs. The kicker on this was probably the trip led by Kryder outside of campus and the emphasis on the reality of finding Bigfoot instead of the cultural aspects of the popular legend. After the KRQE story broke, Kryder, who believes the Ketchum study* proved Bigfoot exists, posted this:
“The KX to KRQE News/Larry Barker Challenge”
BIGFOOT IS A REAL SPECIES/PROOF
To KRQE: In response to your pseudo-investigation and false and misleading special report on the UNM/KX Bigfoot study, the evidence, funding and the blatant lie to the public about the proof of the species. We at KX challenge you, KRQE to send your presumptious and biased investigative reporter Larry Barker out in the field for just 12 hours with my team. And if you do, and Larry B isn’t a BF believer by morning, we agree to do all posssible to raise the $7k and pay back the #UNM account for the cost of the public disclosure conference on behalf of Dr Dyer. — The location – The Sandia Mountains just outside Alb NM, home of #KRQE and Larry Barker. And after, to interview myself and Jeff Meldrum to present the truth of the matter.
Obviously, Mr. Barker of KRQE would have no part in the absurd stunt.
KRQE had contacted Sen. Munoz, who is on the State Legislative Finance Committee, about the $7,458 worth of expenses shelled out and he was not happy. Thus, the Bill was proposed to amend an existing Act (law) to include the following language:
Public funds shall not be expended by a state higher educational institution for the purpose of looking for or catching a fictitious creature, including:
(4) abominable snowman;
(6) leprechauns; or
I am not a fan of frivolous legislation but I see that Munoz wished to make a strong point. UNM said such expenditures wouldn’t happen again, regardless of the law. It is quite probable that the Bill will not pass, most do not. But Sen Munoz made his views known and I, for one, am happy to call out Dr. Dyer on his ridiculous pseudoscientific trip and blatant disregard for reason and scientific ethics. If you want to hunt monsters, do it on your own dollar.
Is anyone else wondering about the name “Dyer” related to these Bigfoot fiascos…?