Sunday, February 15, 2009

A "Monster" Protected by the Government

In Northeast Arkansas, portions of the White River near Jacksonport and Newport have been designated as a refuge for something that even science has yet to identify. Following a flurry of sightings of the creature known as "Whitey" (short for the more menacing title of "The White River Monster"), interested onlookers flocked to the White River and some had less than noble intentions. Fearing that someone would get hurt, or local wildlife might be mistaken for the creature, the Arkansas State Legislature designated the area as the "White River Monster Refuge" in February of 1973. With the designation came the protection. The new law states that it is, "unlawful to kill, molest, trample or harm the White River Monster while in its native refuge."

The state protection of an animal that might or might not exist is not as uncommon as one might think. The state of Vermont has placed "Champ" of Lake Champlain on the Endangered Species List. Skamania County of Washington passed an ordinance to protect any "Bigfoot" creatures within the county lines, which was further revised to declare the entire county as a "Sasquatch Refuge." In 2005, Swedish officials around Lake Storsjön had to lift their protection of their resident lake monster, the famed "Storsjöodjuret," after it was found out that the current law could not enforce the designated protection, as there was no proof of the animal's existence.

The sightings of Whitey reportedly date back to the 1800s, with flurries of reports coming in during the late-1930s and again in the 1970s. Reports have waned since, but some believe it is only a matter of time before it is seen again as it appears to follow a pattern where it emerges every 30 to 40 years. If so, the White River Monster could be reemerging any day now.

Read more on the White River Monster of Arkansas.

-Casey H.

1 comment:

Greg May said...

The White River Monster is most likely a manatee (Trichecus manatus) that swam up the Mississippi River and made a left turn into the White River. Manatees have been known to stray as far west as Texas in the Gulf of Mexico.