Bear mystery exposed as hoax

ACCOUNTS of bear sightings in Rendlesham Forest have today been exposed as an elaborate hoax.

ACCOUNTS of bear sightings in Rendlesham Forest have today been exposed as an elaborate hoax.

Several people who reported seeing a grizzly roaming the woods were part of a sneaky scam designed to whip up publicity for a summer attraction, it has been revealed.

Short of causing panic among regular visitors to Rendlesham Forest, the calamitous con set a worrying precedent for reckless tricksters.

A number of people were party to the stunt and all were mysteriously difficult to contact after they initially reported the sightings.

The make-believe bear was allegedly spotted over the weekend as it roamed around 3,700-acre Rendlesham Forest near Woodbridge.

Choosing not to go to the effort of dressing up as a bear, the scammers instead decided to amuse themselves by taking up the time and resources of the press, not to mention the Forestry Commission which also investigated the alleged sightings.

Most Read

One woman, named as Jenny Pearce, said she saw the creature while exploring the woods with her three-year-old son after having a picnic in a clearing.

Meanwhile a man named Nick Deptford said he had seen some sort of animal in Rendlesham Forest which he suspected was a bear.

The juvenile jape meant a significant report on cutbacks to mental health services was removed from the front page at the eleventh-hour.

The exposure came as our reporter Elliot Furniss went to the woods in an attempt to track down the “bear” - and forest rangers were also spending their valuable time in an attempt to get to the bottom of the reports.

The Evening Star values the validity of information received from our readers. In future it would be a shame if the media were forced to handle all testimony with an air of cynicism and a suspicion that they are dealing with another case of the boy who cried bear.

THIS week's hoax is just the latest stunt to have fooled people across the world.

In 1983 the world was stunned when the German magazine Stern published the first extract of the Hitler Diaries, which had been unearthed in East Germany.

Newspapers across the world took part in an auction for the rights to serialise them, and in Britain the Sunday Times got top historian Hugh Trevor Roper to authenticate them before paying tens of thousands of pounds for them.

Within days, however, they were exposed as fakes and eventually resulted in the forger being sentenced to 42 months in a German prison.

One of the longest-running hoaxes in history was Piltdown man.

In 1912 a collector Charles Dawson claimed to have discovered the skull of the “missing link” between man and apes in a chalk pit in the village of Piltdown in Sussex.

The discovery sparked a series of scientific experiments - but it was only 41 years later that it was exposed as a hoax, with the skull of a human being married up to the jawbone of an Orang Utan.

He always claimed it was a drama production, but Orson Welles' realistic broadcast of War of the Worlds in 1938 managed to persuade much of the population of the US that the planet earth was under attack from martians.

Tomorrow is the day to traditionally look out for hoaxes - one of the most famous in this country was the BBC's “spaghetti harvest” report from Italy on April 1 1957.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter