ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Bigfoot, a furry two-legged beast long purported to roam the woods of North America, is largely believed to be a mythological creature, with sightings widely attributed to confusion or outright hoaxes. But there’s a pretty big community of believers who claim they’ve seen one, or are otherwise convinced of its existence despite a lack of conclusive evidence.

Popularized by the famous and controversial footage shot in 1967 by Bob Gimlin and Rodger Patterson, sightings of the beast have happened in many states since, including Illinois.

Gimlin/Patterson Bigfoot

According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Illinois has had more than 300 reported sightings of the legendary creature.

On November 27th, 2021, in Cass County, near the town of Chandlerville on Route 78, a witness said he saw a large animal jump onto the road about 40 yards in front of his vehicle and said the creature, with large legs and large swinging arms, lept across the road in two jumps.

The driver said the creature was hunched over but still wider than his car and blocked out the lights of the oncoming car.

The last reported Bigfoot sighting in Winnebago County was in October 1994, when a homeowner near the Kishwaukee River and I-39 said they saw a “very tall, slender” creature with “very large eyes” watching them from behind a tree as they were getting in their car. After locking eyes with the witness for “several long seconds,” the beast turned and ran, jumping over a 6 foot fence without breaking stride.

The BFRO also claims that no remains of the modern bigfoot have ever been catalogued because “they will be exceedingly rare, because these animals are rare to begin with, and only a tiny fraction of that population will die in locations and soils that will preserve bones somehow,” according to its website.

Scientists, however, offer another explanation: Bigfoot likely isn’t real.

A data scientist by the name of Floe Foxon has shown that most Bigfoot sightings in the United States and Canada are probably black bears, “walking” upright on their hind legs.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, American black bears usually walk on all fours, but will stand on their hind legs if it means they get a clearer view or a stronger whiff of something interesting. And from this position, they can appear almost human-like (only much hairier).

Black bears have even been sighted in Rockford, from time to time.