In a galaxy far, far away (America in the 1950s), the U.S. government took a strong stand on a very important topic: hunting yetis. Also called the Abominable Snowman, the elusive yeti became all the rage for explorers in Nepal in the 1950s.

Just like Bigfoot in the U.S., people in the Himalayas had been reporting yeti sightings for many years, but in the ’50s it reached a fever pitch. Mountaineers headed to Nepal to search for the (possibly fake) creature, hoping to make a name for themselves.

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The U.S. government even got involved, and in December 1959 the State Department sent out a memo that laid out the rules for hunting yetis. The most important detail: hunters could only kill a yeti in self-defense. Also, the Nepali government was entitled to all evidence that might happen to be discovered.

Photo Credit: NARA

You’re probably asking yourself why the U.S. government was even interested or involved in something that sounds so ridiculous. There is a reasonable explanation, however. This was the height of the Cold War, and America’s top officials were doing everything in their power, even the seemingly absurd, to prevent the spread of communism.

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The U.S. was trying to keep a close eye on Nepal’s neighbor, communist China, and top officials released the memo to try to earn goodwill from the Nepalese government. The Americans figured it couldn’t hurt to have good diplomatic relations with one of China’s neighbors so they could keep a closer eye on the communist nation. It seems as if the decades-long Cold War seeped into every facet of American life in one way or another – even when it came to hunting wild animals that may or may not have ever existed.

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h/t: Mental Floss