Local experts said the legend of Big Red Eye began three decades ago with an incident involving the deaths of multiple rabbits, which police blamed on a bear but some regional newspapers promoted as a monster mystery, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Wednesday.
Believers said the fact that the monster has evaded hunters and photographers for years does not mean he is not stalking the woods of Sussex County.
"Maybe we don't know everything," says Mike Aragona, 44, of Rockaway, a member of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. "We have all this technology. We put a man on the moon. We have satellites. We have all these different things, but here's a creature that could be living right under our noses that has mastered something we have long lost: how to survive in the woods."
Retired ranger Tom Card, 56, of Wantage, said he encountered Big Red Eye at High Point State Park during the 1970s.
"I've spent my whole life in the woods and I've never heard anything like it," he said. "When I first heard it, I thought it was a siren in the distance but then I heard it again. I saw two guys running down the road. I was like, 'This isn't good.'"
Wildlife technician Joe Garris, 57, of Newton, said he has fielded numerous calls about suspected Bigfoot sightings, but he has never glimpsed the creature.
"People want to believe in things," he said.