Something big and hairy — and walking on two feet — has been photographed in the woods of Iredell County, and it didn’t take long for Bigfoot to be raised as the prime suspect by many on social media.
That’s not surprising, given the North Carolina Piedmont is home to many reported sightings of the mythical ape-like creature some believe roams the nation’s backwoods.
But this is something less mythical: a bear.
Black bears aren’t common in North Carolina’s Piedmont, so seeing one walking around on two legs in Iredell County is still a very unexpected and peculiar sight.
Talk of the creature gained traction Nov. 9 on social media, when the Cool Springs Volunteer Fire Department posted an image of something hiding behind a tree.
“Spotted in the Swann Rd area. For those with eyes like mine, yes it’s a bear,” the department wrote.
Joe Vannoy shared several photos on Facebook — all taken as the bear stood “about 50 yards from the back porch.”
Multiple people responded by posting only “Bigfoot” in the comments, likely because it is walking on two feet in every photo. The images are also from far away and grainy, a classic part of Bigfoot documentation.
“So he is real. OMG,” one person wrote.
There is no proof that Bigfoot exists, but the pursuit of evidence has become a national obsession. North Carolina is a hot spot for sightings, which inspired the creation of an annual Western North Carolina Bigfoot Festival.
National Geographic says most Bigfoot documentation relies on circumstantial evidence: eyewitness accounts, blurry photographs and mysterious footprints. Many scientists insist the sightings are often misidentifications of other animals.
North Carolina is home to two major concentrations of bears — one in the mountains and one near the coast. There are “approximately 17,000 bears” in North Carolina, state officials say.
Bears can weigh 700 pounds and be 6 feet long, giving them a towering appearance when standing on two feet.