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Mystery solved: Foot belonged to bear
This morning's announcement ends the sometimes intense speculation about the 8.5-inch foot found at a Spotsylvania landfill.

Date published: 2/20/2007

BY BILL FREEHLING

PHOTOS: View images and make your own decision.

The foot mystery is solved.

The foot found Feb. 10 at a Spotsylvania County landfill is the hind foot of a bear.

That was the conclusion reached by the Virginia medical examiner’s office, which contacted the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office this morning with the news.

That brings to an end the sometimes intense speculation about the 8.5-inch foot found at the Livingston Landfill by workers cleaning the treads of a bulldozer.

At first it was thought to be a human’s left foot. Spotsylvania emergency personnel spent hours picking through about 127 tons of trash at the landfill to find more of the body.

Then the word came back from the state lab that it was an “apelike species.”

But primate experts around the country looked at the foot and decided it wasn’t an ape. That led to speculation that it belonged to Bigfoot.

Many people had previously determined that it was indeed a bear’s foot.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith said the state lab reached that same conclusion after doing further forensic work and consulting with an anthropologist.

Smith said authorities suspect that a taxidermist dumped the foot after skinning it and cutting off the claws. There was no hair on the foot, and it had been cleanly sawed off.

Wendy Christensen-Senk, who is a taxidermist at the Milwaukee Public Museum, concluded it was a black bear after seeing photos. She said bear feet are often mistaken as human after they’re skinned and declawed.

Smith said the foot will be kept at the Virginia state lab for training purposes. He said the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office now considers it a closed case.

Bill Freehling: 540/374-5424 bfreehling@freelancestar.com