In March of 2012, a Minnesota sasquatch researcher, Mike, captured a series of howls and other vocalizations on his audio recorder that we have named the 2012 Minnesota Howls. He had chosen a site in southern St. Louis County where there had been sasquatch sightings in the past. He had permission from the landowner to access the land and do recording. This landowner had commented on having heard strange howls for years on his property, and Mike wanted to place a recorder to see if he would get anything.
He selected a site away from human activity near the bogs. The land is fairly flat, heavily wooded, and boggy. Trees consist of both hardwoods and evergreens. Being March in northern MN, there were no leaves on the hardwood trees. The ground had 2 to 3 inches of snow on it. It should be noted that Minnesota had a warm winter in 2012. Normally, this area would be under several feet of snow in March. He hung the recorder in a pouch from a tree limb, about 6 feet above the ground. In the pouch, he also included an open packet of chocolate or cider mix. He loaded the recorder with fresh batteries and left it to record for over 20 hours.
The howls in question took place around 4:30 in the morning and lasted for about 20 minutes. There are several different voices and calls throughout the recording. At least one individual caller was near the recorder, probably within 100 yards. Likely, there was more than one. Other callers were far away. That there was an interchange between two groups of callers seems obvious.
Other sounds can also be heard such as several clear knocks, slapping/popping sounds, close range movement (likely a rodent checking out the bait, as there were no footprints other than Mike’s near the recorder), coyotes at one point, and several times you can hear a train in the distance.
Mike was fairly new to audio recording at the time and didn’t actually know how to set up his recorder to break the recording into manageable files. As a result, when he contacted SRA-Jim about the recording, it was in one, 20 hour file. Mike did not have the tools to get such a large file off of the recorder so he brought the whole recorder to Jim to let him pull the file off. Jim figured out how to divide the file in the recorder which allowed him to download it and cut out the 20 minute section with the howls. As a result, we are fairly confident that Mike did not tamper with the recording in any way before we got it. The following file is the unedited original file that Jim cut out of the 20 hour file he pulled off of the recorder:
Copyright notice: This recording and all derivatives are copyright of Mike P., Jim H., and Andrew Pieper, 2012. We give you permission to use and distribute these recordings for personal, non-commercial use. If you post any of these recordings on the internet or share them in any way, please provide a link back to this web page. If you want these recordings for commercial use, please contact the SRA for more details.
I would ask that you listen to the above recording before reading any further. That way you can form your own thoughts on what you are hearing without having your opinions colored by my point-by-point analysis.
Within Audacity, I broke the recording into smaller sections and used the Amplify tool where possible to enhance the volume of the fainter sounds. In doing this, I cleaned out some of the loud ticks and clicks that one can hear near the recorder, allowing for better amplification of distant sounds. These amplified files are posted below for you to listen to along with my analysis of each.
Note: Times given first are the time in the original recording. Times following in parenthesis are for the amplified clip.
0 to 3 Minutes
0:44 (0:44): Clear knock
2:11 (2:11): Faint train whistle
2:17 (2:17): Something begins moving near the recorder. This continues off and on throughout the recording. I assume it is some small rodent attracted by the candy Mike put with the recorder, as there were no footprints of any large animals in the snow near the recorder.
3 to 6 Minutes
3:24 (0:24): Large branch breaks
There is continued movement near the recorder during the rest of this clip.
3:53 (0:53): A low-pitched, distant moan/howl
4:02 to 4:19 (1:02 to 1:19): Three higher pitched, distant howls
6 to 9 Minutes
Throughout this segment the movements by the recorder are fairly continuous.
6:29 to 6:41 s (0:29 to 0:41): Distant train whistle
6:41 (0:41): Wood knock
7:07 to 7:28 (1:07 to 1:28): Three very loud, wolf-like howls. If these were the only howls on this recording, I’d have said that Mike had captured wolves howling and nothing more. These really are three excellent howls and give an idea of what is to come. The sheer volume alone surpasses almost any other recording we’ve heard before. Based on calls we recorded in 2009 where we knew the distance, if these were the same volume as the 2009 calls then we estimate that the caller(s) was within 100 yards of the recorder.
7:37 to 8:09 (1:37 to 2:09): Four very loud moans/howls, as follows:
- The first howl in this series (1:37) opens with a quieter descending vocal followed by a very powerful, lower pitched moan/howl reminiscent of a cross between a humpback whale, a bovine, and a wolf.
- The second howl (1:44) is very powerful with a high pitch.
- The third (1:54) is also a high pitched power howl, but drops off suddenly.
- The fourth howl (2:02) is similar in power to the previous three, but undulates in pitch.
8:31 (2:31): A strange, short vocalization which could be a barred owl
8:51 to 9:00 (2:51 to 3:00): Two faint howls in the distance, possible coyotes
8:30 to 12 minutes
8:31 (0:01): A strange, short vocalization which could be a barred owl
8:51 to 9:14 (0:21 to 0:44): Howls in the distance; probable coyotes
9:16 to 11:16 (0:46 to 2:46): This section is filled with a complex chorus of howls and a train whistle. I counted 17 different vocalizations, some wolf-like, some whale-like, others bovine-like, and some ape-like as well. It appears that there were up to four different callers in this section overlapping each other.
One thing I really like about this section is how dynamic it is, with the callers obviously interacting with each other.
11:36 to 11:54 (3:06 to 3:18): This is a deeper howl than the previous ones followed by a rising and falling “Wooooo” call. This is very primate like and not at all like any wolf or other creature we have heard in the area.
12 to 14:55 minutes
12:37 to 13:45 (0:37 to 1:45): Train Whistles? Also, there is more close movement by the recorder.
13:57 to 14:04 (1:57 to 2:01): Four slaps or knocks
14:06 to 14:47 (2:06 to 2:47): Five howls and also some knocks. There is a strange train-like overtone; I’m not sure if there is a train also whistling or if the train sound is echoes or some sort of feedback in the recorder.
14:55 to 17 minutes
This clip is filled with a series of slapping/whacking sounds; well over a hundred in quick succession. I’m not going to isolate any particular slap as it would be cumbersome. Points other than slapping I’ll point out though. The slapping sounds themselves are intriguing. I’m not really certain what we are listening to. At first, I thought that something might be smacking smaller branches into a tree trunk or something like that. After a little experimentation though, I found that I could make a similar sound by vigorously smacking my cupped palm into my somewhat hairy chest, so I’m leaning toward this being the sound of rapid chest beating. At any rate, it is an interesting segment and not the sort of sounds you could associate with a pack of wolves, coyotes, or anything else. I did think that it could be the sound of a buck fight, but this was recorded in March, long after the deer had lost their antlers.
16:26 (1:35): Distant howl
16:30 to 16:50 (1:40 to 1:55): This section has intense slapping, howls and also includes a deep, brief voice at 16:31 (1:41). The voice is very deep and brief, but reminiscent of the samurai chatter from the Sierra Sounds. You can also hear other sounds in this section that I can’t identify, plus two distant howls.
16:50 to 16:58 (2:01 to 2:08): Distant howl
17 to 19 minutes
17:45 to 18:24 (0:45 to 1:24): This section contains six extremely powerful howls. These are very different in tone and voice than the others. These howls are not wolf-like at all, but are very human/primate sounds, exhibiting a forlorn “Waaaa” sound. More than any other section of this recording, this section convinces me that we are not listening to wolves or any other known animal from that area.
18:26 (1:26): Very distant howl
18:46 (1:46): Distant howl
18:55 (1:55): Distant howl
19 to 23 minutes
Everything in this last section is distant and difficult to hear. I had to amplify it a lot. You can hear several more distant howls and some train whistles in this clip. I’m not going to bother breaking this down further as it pales in comparison to the previous clips.
As with any audio only evidence, we cannot be certain what actually made the sounds on this recording. That is the real problem with audio, especially one such as this where no one actually heard the calls personally. The only way to be certain of the identity of the source of audio like this is for someone to see the caller open its mouth and make the sound, so audio must always be treated a bit cautiously.
The possibilities I see are as follows:
- The sounds on this audio were made by Mike in an attempt to perpetrate a hoax.
I honestly do not believe this to be the case. Both Jim and I interviewed Mike on several occasions about this recording and how he got it. We have not detected any sign of fabrication in his story. Also, at the time he gave us his recording, he barely knew how to run his recorder, much less create an audio file that would be very difficult to fabricate, even if one knew how, which I am certain he did not.
- The sounds were made by a human other than Mike in an attempt to hoax him.
It is possible that someone else went to the site where Mike had the recorder and made the calls. This seems unlikely for several reasons. First, only Mike and the landlord even knew that Mike was placing the recorder at that location. When Mike went to get the recorder, there was no sign in the snow that anyone had been near it or followed Mike’s track to it (which they would have had to do to find it because he had placed it alone). It would have taken several people working in concert over a large area in the dark and cold of a Minnesota winter night to create the back and forth nature of the audio. Finally, I actually doubt that a human could replicate the howls on this tape, certainly not with the amount of repetition and force that was done here.
- The sounds were made by wolves or other canines.
I cannot completely rule out wolves. Many of the howls are similar to wolf calls I found on other sites on the internet (Google “Wolf Vocalizations”). There are wolf howls that do match up to many of the howls here, at least in form. The voice and intensity of the howls in this recording does seem to out strip most wolf capabilities. Also, wolf howls typically have a longer duration than these howls, which are clipped off at the end in a very non-wolf like manner in most cases. Some of the howls, like the ones at 17:45, really do not sound anything like any wolf vocalizations I can find or have heard. Finally, there are a lot of other sounds on the recording that are not consistent with wolves, like the wood knocks and the banging sounds.
- The sounds were made by cattle.
I put this down as a remote possibility, but I cannot support it. First, there are no cattle in the area. Second, only a few of the sounds resemble cattle. Most could not be made by them.
- The sounds were made by sasquatches.
All of the sounds on this recording are consistent with what is typically attributed to sasquatches and also to the behavior of other large primates as well.
I personally believe that this is a recording of two groups of sasquatches interacting in the woods. It is possible that wolves were also involved, but to what degree it is difficult to tell. With that, I will leave off any further commentary and let you make up your own mind.
For additional analysis of this recording, refer to Mononga Hela’s spectrographic analysis of the recordings at Sasquatch Bioacoustic. You can also see his latest, full analysis in the following YouTube Video: