|Cryptozoology, BioForteana, Zoological Oddities, Unusual Natural History||StrangeArk blog|
Newspapers and Fliers
Another method of soliciting information is with a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. A well-written letter asking for information on mystery animals or wildlife legends from your region will almost certainly be published. Editors get tired of seeing the same old politics on the editorial page. It is best to ask for information on at least one specific creature, if possible. For example, if you know that black panthers were seen twenty years ago in a forest near your town, ask if anyone has seen or photographed them. You may or may not receive many responses, but at least your name will be in print, and people will know who to contact if they do see a mystery animal.
You will also wish to make up a flyer asking for information. I've received several reports from people seeing my flyers. It's a good way to meet others interested in zoological anomalies. Include a description of what you're looking for (a list of known mystery animals from your area) and your mailing address. First impressions are important - make sure that the flyer looks "professional." Place the flyers on public bulletin boards and (after getting permission) in public libraries. Consider renting a small post office box. You may not be inundated with mail, but it is a good way to keep crank calls to a minimum. I haven't had any problems with that, but it's something to think about.
When you receive the name of a witness, please keep in mind that not everyone wants their name spread around. Keep names anonymous unless you have asked specifically to pass their name along to another investigator. Personally, I won't put a witness' name in print, unless they are deceased or their name has already been published. If another investigator wishes to confirm a story, give the name to them (if you have the permission of the witness) only if they agree not to publish it. You will gain the trust of witnesses this way, and will make it easier to work with them.
This may seem odd, as most sighting reports are investigated after a witness' name has appeared in the newspaper. What I'm after, though, are witnesses who haven't appeared in the paper, and who won't identify themselves unless they are certain that I won't leak their names to the local press. Fear of negative publicity frightens away many witnesses.