If you believe the stories, Bigfoot
could be stomping around the woods
of north central Wisconsin right
now, and a werewolf could be
following in its tracks.
But you probably don't believe the
There are, however, so many tales of
the large hairy beast and the
four-legged wolf-bear, and they come
from such a variety of sources, that
it's likely you've at least wondered
about the creatures.
If you're really intrigued, you
might want to drive to Stevens Point
on Saturday, where the "Strange
Stevens Point/Wausau Unexplained
Conference" will be held. There,
you'll learn about Bigfoot,
werewolves, ghosts, haunted places
in the area and the adventures of
Linda Godfrey, author of the newly
released book "Hunting the American
Werewolf" will be among the
presenters. She also penned an
earlier book, "The Beast of Bray
In her books, she describes stories
about a large wolf-like creature
that's as big as a bear. Or maybe
it's a mixture of man and beast. She
first got intrigued with the
creature when she worked on a story
about it as a reporter for The Week,
a biweekly newspaper based in
"I think what keeps fueling this
phenomenon is that people keep
seeing it (the creature," Godfrey
said. "There have been 70 sightings
in Wisconsin alone."
If you think you're safe in Marathon
County, think again. (There have
been stories about people completely
disappearing, Godfrey said. But
there never have been reports of the
creature hurting anyone, she pointed
Wausau's Todd Roll, 41, is a
reference librarian at the
University of Wisconsin Marathon
County. He's been interested in the
paranormal and has collected stories
about abnormal creatures for years.
The wolf/bear creature first
intrigued him when a Mosinee middle
schooler approached him with a
Roll was talking about ghosts in
Mosinee. After he finished, the kid
told him that the kid's brother was
playing paintball near Hatley when
he and other friends saw an animal
on the edge of a field. "(He said)
it looked like a cross between a
wolf and a bear. It looked mostly
like a wolf, but the size of a bear.
It had shaggy fur, and pointy ears,"
Roll said. "I said, 'Wow, that's
interesting.' Then I started hearing
these other stories from people."
A woman Roll worked with said her
brother had seen a similar creature
while hunting in the woods near
Antigo. Others also came forward.
Bigfoot hasn't gone unnoticed in
Marathon County, either. In the
early 1990s, a town of Frankfurt
couple reported a Bigfoot sighting
to the Marathon County Sheriff's
Department. When the Wausau Daily
Herald tried calling the couple,
their daughter answered. Her father
had passed away, she said, and her
mother didn't want to talk about it.
Nor did they want their names
associated with the story. "People
are mean," the woman said.
That's a pretty common reaction,
Roll said. A lot of people won't
talk about their sightings when
confronted about them.
"I've heard a lot of second- and
third-hand stories from people, a
cousin or a brother who saw this
weird thing. I'll track them down,
and the witnesses clam up on it,"
He neither believes or disbelieves.
There isn't any real physical
evidence to prove the creatures
exist. But what if, Roll asks, "what
we're seeing is something
paranormal, perhaps a spirit? ... If
you believe in the spirit world,
maybe people are seeing spirits,
something that really exists on a
Native American stories include
witches and shape-shifters that take
on the shape of a wolf, he said.
He needs something physical before
he truly believes. But he doesn't
think people are making up the
stories. "They don't want to talk
about it; they're ashamed of it," he
said. "I can't imagine what they
would gain from that."
Chad Lewis, 31, of Eau Claire is one
of the organizers and will be a
presenter at the Unexplained
Conference. He has a master's degree
in psychology and works as a grant
writer for a nonprofit antipoverty
People who are intrigued by all the
creatures and ghosts and the
unexplained will have a safe haven
at the conference, he said, whether
they believe or not. Lewis has
investigated plenty of paranormal
circumstances. "Some we've
debunked," he said. "And (in) some,
we haven't found a suitable
It's all a big adventure, Lewis
said, and who doesn't want answers
to the unexplained?
"I think people just love getting
scared and frightened," Lewis said.