The president of a two-year branch of the University of New Mexico charged state taxpayers for a Bigfoot expedition he took with some of his Bigfoot-believing buddies — none of whom is a student or school employee — and for a Bigfoot “experts” conference on campus.
The Bigfoot-hunting school president is Christopher Dyer. He is the chief bureaucrat at the University of New Mexico-Gallup campus (in the small town of Gallup).
In February, Dyer organized a two-day symposium on the UNM-Gallup campus entitled “Bigfoot in New Mexico: Evidence, Ecology, and Behavior,” reports Albuquerque CBS affiliate KRQE.
The featured speakers at the conference were Jeff Meldrum and Rob Kryder.
The conference billed Meldrum, a biology professor at Idaho State University, as a “renowned expert” on on the huge, hairy, bipedal, unicorn-like wilderness creature. You can see Meldrum’s Bigfoot musings here.
The conference billed Kryder as a “New Mexico naturalist.” Kryder owns a company called Kryder Exploration (motto: “Finding answers to the questions…that others are too afraid to ask“)
The publicly-funded University of New Mexico spent thousands of dollars on the conference. Taxpayers footed the bill for airfare, lodging and generous per diem fees for the speakers.
There were also direct payments to the speakers. Meldrum, the Idaho State professor, received a direct payment of $1,000 for regaling people with stories about Bigfoot.
For his part, Kryder, the “New Mexico naturalist,” received a $500 direct payment.
After the two-day conference was over, Dyer and some unidentified colleagues traveled by van into Sandia Mountains to scout the rugged landscape for traces of Bigfoot. The post-conference Bigfoot-hunting field trip included stays in hotels in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and delicious meals.
New Mexico taxpayers picked up the tab for the entire trip — including mileage. Taxpayers also generously purchased seven pairs of snowshoes for trip participants, according to KRQE. (The station only lists one of the people who went on the trip with Dyer: George Harvey, whose “whole family is poor.”)
Sadly, the after-conference Bigfoot-hunting search party was a total bust.
“I’d have to say it was pretty much a blown waste of money because we did not find evidence because of the snow,” Dyer told KRQE concerning the trek into the mountains — in February. “It was just impossible to get around out there. So in that case, yeah would we spend money on that again? Absolutely not.”
Dyer also admitted that he has never once experienced the thrill of a Bigfoot sighting.
“I haven’t seen it but I’ve heard it,” Dyer told the CBS affiliate. “I’ve had a rock thrown at me by one at night, I think. And it certainly smelled. That’s because they have a very strong odor.”
Dyer did not describe the odor.
All told, the two-day conference and the post-conference trip into the snowy mountains cost taxpayers over $7,000.
Dyer justified the expenses.
“People use monies from the taxpayers to do research. For Bigfoot or whatever,” he told KRQE.
Others have criticized Dyer’s decisions.
“When you’re expending the resources of taxpaying citizens on what is completely pseudo-science, that’s a betrayal of the public trust,” New Mexico Tech instructor Dave Thomas told the station.
Ben Radford, managing editor of The Skeptical Inquirer, noted that the university-based conference did not apparently include anyone who doesn’t believe in mythological ape-like creatures.
“You know, if you want to spend the day hiking in the Sandias, you go for it. I would just say don’t use the public’s money,” Radford suggested. “The track record of success for Bigfoot searches is exactly zero.”
Dyer claimed that he did not know how to contact any qualified Bigfoot skeptics. He also observed that the conference “was the largest and most well-attended event in the history of this campus.”
Robert G. Frank, the president of the University of New Mexico, said he didn’t know the first thing about the taxpayer-funded Bigfoot conference.
“I didn’t know about this until you contacted us to bring it to our attention,” Frank told KRQE.
“The type of expedition that just took place was not appropriate and will not occur in that manner again,” Frank added.
New Mexico state Sen. George Munoz urged Dyer to pay back the $7,000.
In the two videos below, you can see Dyer. In the first, he is interviewing a woman who swears she saw “these three huge, hairy things.” In the second, he is performing exciting “Sasquatch DNA Gathering” field work.
A University of New Mexico-Gallup webpage providing detailed information about Dyer indicates that he has a Ph.D. in anthropology from Arizona State University and has taught over two dozen courses including “Ecological Anthropology,” “Indians of North America,” “Introduction to Sociology” and “Magic and Religion.”
Dyer, who “grew up in the Southwest exploring the deserts and mountains of the region,” says in his “About me” section that his activities include “walking my two dogs Bonnie and Nambe,” “collecting fossils” and “lifting weights.”
He belongs to the American Anthropological Association. (RELATED: Now America’s Most Pointless, Useless Professors Threaten Academic Boycott Of Israel)
Strangely, the “About me” section does not appear to mention Dyer’s fascination with and world-class expertise in Bigfoot-chasing.
The University of New Mexico is most famous, of course, because Paul Roth, the medical school dean, recently admitted that summer camp staffers on the taxpayer-funded main campus allowed high school students to dissect the brains of aborted babies. (VIDEO: Medical School Dean Admits High School Students Dissected BRAINS OF ABORTED BABIES)