The Oregonian newspaper posted an article about a series of strange howls that have been emanating from the murky swamps of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Most of the residents in or around the 178,000 acre reservation who have heard the spooky shrills believe them to be from baby foxes or coyotes. Then there are those who think the night howls can be attributed to Bigfoot.
PENDLETON — Baby foxes or Bigfoot?
The eerie late-night serenades began in November and emanate from a brushy swamp on the Umatilla Indian Reservation east of Pendleton. The cries range from high-pitched screams to basso profundo roars.
“It’s causing an uproar around here,” said Sylvia Minthorn, who lives in a tribal housing unit near the swamp, where she used to play as a child.
She’s seen grown men’s hair stand on end when the shrieks commence.
Colleen Chance, a tribal housing authority employee, keeps a recording of the howls on her iPhone.
So far no one’s pinpointed the source of the noise on this rugged 178,000-acre reservation that extends into northeastern Oregon’s Blue Mountains and is home to about 1,500 people. The swamp in question borders the old reservation community of Mission, in a canyon north of the Wildhorse Resort and Casino.
Phone calls about the wails started coming in last month to the housing authority, and the office has had a half dozen so far. More could come in because the cries are continuing from time to time.
Some tenants of the reservation’s 190 rentals and 32 homes admitted being afraid and one man reported that his dogs were too terrified to go outside, said Josh Franken, the housing authority’s interim director.
“This guy was rather scared himself,” Franken said. A rumor quickly spread that the cries were made by “a young Bigfoot that had got separated from the rest of his clan,” he said.
It’s difficult to shrug off the accounts, said Marcus Luke, a housing authority homeownership counselor. Many on the reservation “are woodsy-type folks,” familiar with animals and not prone to taking fright at nighttime commotion, he said.
I’ve heard the squabbles of coyotes at night. I can tell you that it’s definitely a creepy sound to hear in the dead calm of a Californian dessert. I’ve yet to hear foxes squabble, but I’m sure it’s just as unsettling. The residents of Pendleton have heard coyotes and foxes all their lives, yet many of them believe that the eerie howls sound nothing like the local wildlife.
But many who’ve heard the racket dismiss such notions. “Foxes do sound creepy,” said Sylvia Minthorn. “But it’s not the same sound, not even close.”