Several Internet Web sites list the Withlacoochee River between Valdosta and Quitman as the scene of many of the most recent sightings of the legendary Skunk Ape.
Figuring out how Brooks County became one of the most recent homes of the Skunk Ape may be as elusive as the creature described as being a smaller, smellier version of Bigfoot.
Ask Brooks County Sheriff Mike Dewey if his office has handled any calls regarding Skunk Ape sightings, he says not in the year and four months since he’s taken office. And he cannot recall any during his previous 19 years as a deputy sheriff either.
Brooks County receives the occasional call regarding a panther in the wild, but the sheriff says as far as “a Bigfoot, a Skunk Ape, or anything like that? No.”
One Skunk Ape aficionado recalls some sort of probe along the Georgia-Florida state line last year. But he has no details and isn’t certain of a more specific location.
Visit Skunk Ape Web sites and they list in great detail sightings of the creature. Sites detail a Clinch County sighting last fall, a 2008 Berrien County case, a Valdosta resident reporting a sighting from the 1950s. But nothing detailing sightings along the Withlacoochee in recent months or years.
Yet, several Web sites, from the Chicago Tribune to the Florida Sun Sentinel, include this same passage: “In recent months, several sightings have been reported near the Withlacoochee River in Brooks County, Ga., between Quitman and Valdosta.”
Who handled these reported sightings is as intriguing a question as what’s a Skunk Ape?
WHAT IS A SKUNK APE?
The Skunk Ape has many names: Swamp Logger. Stink Ape. Swamp Monkey. Florida’s Bigfoot.
The Skunk Ape is a hominid, walking on two legs similar to a man, but it also reportedly lives among trees like a monkey.
Yet, it is its foul odor, often described as the reek of rotten eggs or hydrogen sulfide, that puts the “skunk” into the creature’s name. A Skunk Ape witness said in 1977: “It stunk awful, like a dog that hasn’t been bathed in a year and suddenly gets rained on.”
The Skunk Ape has been described as being about six-and-a-half to seven feet tall. A build that is shorter and weighing far less than the descriptions of the eight-foot, 1,000-pound Bigfoot. Like Bigfoot, a Skunk Ape has never been caught and sightings are often regarded with skepticism.
Yet, Skunk Ape sightings reach back hundreds of years. Florida’s Native Americans reportedly called the creature “Shaawanoki.”
Sightings range primarily in the South, and predominantly in the Florida Everglades.