This is an extended version of our interview with Brian Hendrian that we featured in the August 2009 issue of the Legends and Lore of Illinois. Download the entire issue by clicking here.
1. How long have you been investigating cryptozoology and OOPs (out of place) animals? How did you become interested in the subject?
“Ive always been interested in all types of animals since i was very very young. My father was a big hunter and when i was at the right age then he started teaching me how to be one. This is when i became more interested in animals and tracks with also identifying the the different types of native species. As time went i became more interested in TV shows about unknown creatures or sightings. I’m also a big conservationist at the same time in helping preserve animal habitat as well. Ive been interested in the cryptozoology field for roughly 20+ yrs. Not only do i research the unknown creatures, but have branched off into following native creatures sightings that are now being seen in places they once inhabited or never inhabited. I believe in order to better understand these unknown creatures one must research the known creatures with habitat and migration paths.”
2. Have you ever had your own encounter with a legendary beast, or seen an animal (or evidence of one) that isn’t commonly found in the state?
“I haven’t run into Bigfoot or any unknown creature personally, but would love to someday. As for now i follow stories or cases that pertain to Bigfoot and other unknown creatures sightings around the States, but mostly within Illinois. I actually grew up in an area in central IL where a sighting of Bigfoot took place many years ago. I have seen large cats a few times with what looks to be like a cougar in the area where i use to reside on a 2,800 acre farm i once had a few times, but i have yet to capture any concrete proof to back up my claims.”
3. What is the strangest case you’ve ever worked on?
“Nothing in the past that truly stands out from all the rest, but here recently we will be investigating a new case that has had cow mutilation’s at a farm not far from here where i reside. The claims are of UFO encounters, but at this time i believe that it can be explained and is possibly an animal as to a cat or canine. I possible this case may deal with all the new cougar sightings, but we wont know until we investigate the site and the claims.”
4. What do you make of Bigfoot sightings in Illinois? Surely something like that couldn’t live here, could it?
“I believe in keeping an open mind as to thinking anything is possible. Many cases you can just tell they aren’t credible, but there are a few that just stand out from all the rest. The ones that stand out are the ones we follow up on, but is a long process and honestly i do believe people are seeing something that cant explain. In order to explain myself much better on this subject then i suggest people visit our site with the maps Ive made and theories that we have concluded at http://shelbycryptozoologyresearchsociety.webs.com/”
5. Were you aware that the skeleton of a “giant” human (or humanoid) was dug up in Cumberland County in the 1920s? Have you ever heard any stories of giants in Illinois?
“I have heard of stories like what you describe or similar, but have not followed up on them much if any at all, but since you mention it i will probably look into these stories more often within future time.”
6. Do you believe there are panthers roaming Illinois? Is there compelling evidence of panthers here?
“OK now here is where it might get a bit hard or confusing with explaining the different types of cats and their names. I do believe people are seeing large cats in IL. It’s already known that the cougar is back in IL with proof provided in northern and southern areas. Now on a different note it is possible that black panthers or leopards are within the states which is different than the cougar. Ive done much research on the subject to find out that the leopard or spotted leopard was once native to several states back in the 1800′s and was eradicated back in the late 1800′s. Then the cougar made its fate almost at the same time with being eradicated from IL and other states back in the late 1800′s. New solid proof of the spotted leopard making a comeback to the states has been recorded in 2 southern states near Mexico in the past few years.. I also found out that there is a strain that is black which could possibly be what people are seeing but actual clear credible proof has yet to be captured to verify these claims.”