, 66, of New Cumberland, has been applying scientific methods to the study of pseudoscientific phenomena since the 1970s.
These days, however, it seems he's
busier than ever, attending conferences, giving talks, teaching classes and following up on area sightings of everything from Bigfoot to UFOs.
"I have nine UFO reports open right now in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio," he
"Two of those cases are unknowns."
New Cumberland resident Fred Saluga
holds plaster casts of two Bigfoot "footprints," one with four toes and one with five. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
vanity license plate proudly states his avocation, which has become a full-time occupation. (Photo by Stephen Huba)
Saluga follows the protocols of MUFON-he is state director for West Virginia and section director for Western Pennsylvania-and so tries to close cases within 90 days of receiving a report.
The findings are then entered into a database.
The founder of the West Virginia Center for Unexplained Events, Saluga started investigating paranormal phenomena while working as a police officer in his native Fayette County, Pa., in the 1970s.
Responding to a burglary-in-progress, he
arrived to find a woman who insisted there were ghosts in her
There was snow on the ground but no footprints outside and no unwelcome visitors inside.
But there were unexplained noises coming from a room upstairs, so Saluga
put the word "ghost" in his
"From then on, I became known as the paranormal cop," he
"Every time there was a Bigfoot sighting, they called me."
Saluga's career in law enforcement took him to Florida and then back to Pennsylvania, where he worked as a child abuse investigator for Allegheny County.
He retired in 2012, meanwhile getting a bachelor's degree in police administration from Youngstown State University.
Saluga now devotes himself full time to paranormal investigations, applying the investigative techniques of a police officer to phenomena that are not always easily explained.
He is licensed by the state of West Virginia as a private investigator.
"You can't prove there's UFOs, but you can't disprove it.
You can't prove Bigfoot exists, but you can't disprove it," he
"We're looking for an answer scientifically."
Although there's no lack of sightings of such things, there's a lack of credible evidence that makes Saluga's investigations all the more daunting.
approaches each report as a sympathetic skeptic.
"With this, you've got to take it with a grain of salt.
When you're interviewing somebody, you can tell nine times out of 10 whether they're telling the truth," he
"We want to make people aware (that) if they see these things, they're not crazy.
They should report them."
own theories for why, despite all the sightings, "cryptozoological" creatures such as Bigfoot have never been captured.
One theory suggests that Bigfoot is actually an interdimensional being-an alien that shuttles between its craft and Earth.
once took a report from a Greene County, Pa., man who claimed to have seen Bigfoot beam down from a light emanating from a UFO.
"This guy was on his
I believed him," he
West Virginia has had its share of Bigfoot-like sightings over the years, including Mothman in Point Pleasant, the Flatwoods monster in Braxton County, "Bashful Billy" in Wheeling, and a white Bigfoot in Tomlinson Run State Park, Saluga
"I've never seen one," he
said, "but I believe Bigfoot is real."
also is scheduled to give talks in August-one on Bigfoot at 10 a.m. Aug. 1 at Carnegie Public Library
in East Liverpool, and one at noon Aug. 16 at Beaver Creek State Park's Bigfoot Day.