LEWISTON, Maine -- A Maine scientist is preparing to release details of a $1 million reward for a photograph that leads to the live capture of Bigfoot, the abominable snowman, or the Loch Ness Monster.
Loren Coleman, a professor at the University of Southern Maine, said the bounty would be paid by an unnamed company and he plans to release more details at a cryptozoology symposium at Bates College over Halloween weekend. Cryptozoology is the scientific study of hidden, rumored, or unknown animals.
''It's the time for something like this," Coleman said. ''Back in the 1960s, hardly anybody was talking about this. Today, it's phenomenal."
The mysteries surrounding these creatures have long been the subject of debate.
Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, is said to be a huge, hairy, humanlike creature with long arms. The abominable snowman, or yeti, is a large, hairy, manlike mammal reputed to live in the Himalayas. The Loch Ness Monster is a dinosaur-like creature reputed to live in a lake in Scotland.
The $1 million bounty would be paid by a company to anyone who produces a photograph that leads to the live capture of one of the three creatures, Coleman said.
''We don't want people running around with guns trying to kill something to get the money," Coleman said. ''It's not a contest, either. It's a very specific bounty that depends on the permanent capture of a live specimen, with emphasis on 'live.' "
Coleman, a cryptozoologist who is considered one of the world's leading experts on Bigfoot, said he would release some details about the bounty at a Bigfoot conference over the weekend in Texas. He is saving the rest for Lewiston, where he will speak at the symposium on Oct. 28 on the Bates campus.
The three-day symposium, to be held at the Bates College Museum of Art, will focus on cryptozoology, science, and art.
''What we like about the subject is that there is such a fine line between truth and fraud in the field, and that goes way back through history," said museum curator Mark Bessire. ''We're looking at how the possibility of these beasts becomes a part of the cultural canon."
The event will include panel discussions about the science of fantastic creatures and artistic interpretations of their stories. It will feature two movies, including ''The Legend of Boggy Creek," a 1972 film about an Arkansas town terrorized by a swamp monster.
Coleman said most sightings are hoaxes, mistakes, or misunderstandings. But the $1 million reward is on the level, he said.
''The company that's behind this really understands the situation," he said. ''They understand the interest in the creatures and monsters that are really out there and they are willing to step forward."