All posts by wildlifejournalist

Chester Moore is known as The Wildlife Journalist® for his cutting-edge articles, videos, lectures, television appearances and radio broadcasts involving wildlife around the world. He has won more than 100 awards for writing, photography, radio and his conservation efforts. He was named a "Hero of Conservation" by Field & Stream magazine and won the Mossy Oak Outdoors Legacy award for his work with children and wildlife in the conservation field in 2017.

Running Wild with Austin Stevens

When I had an opportunity to review Austin Steven’s new book Running Wild I was legitimately excited.

Stevens is my favorite ever outdoors television host and I have followed his career closely since seeing his Austin Stevens Snakemaster on Animal Planet in 2004.

Having previously read his other action-packed books I was not sure how many stories were left untold but I found myself thoroughly entertained, informed and inspired while reading Running Wild.

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The very beginning with Stevens facing off with an angry chimpanzee escaped from a zoological facility set the tone for many tales of harrowing danger, ridiculously funny situations and poignant tales of life’s many struggles.

The thing that initially  made me a fan of Steven’s television programs is his sincerity. When he crawled into a cave to find wintering rattlesnakes, his claustrophobia showed. On many episodes, he shared fears and trepidations where many others are all about shock value.

The same sincerity shines through in his frustrations over changes in African culture as his wife experienced a terrifying night at the behest of burglars  and seeing the effects of spousal abuse on a friend.

He also shares great emotion in describing meeting his new wife Amy and their many adventures together.

And adventures abound in Running Wild.

Stevens is known chiefly for his work with snakes but his interaction with hyenas, rhinos, elephants and hippos are just as educational and intriguing.

His penchant for shooting wide angle photos of dangerous animals in super close quarters allows him to experience things about these creatures that most would never see. His description of pursuing the extremely dangerous and highly endangered black rhinoceros in particular held my attention and made me want to learn more about the species.

Now don’t think for a second that snakes are not part of the book. There are plenty of truly engaging serpent encounters and reflections on the kinds of interactions perhaps only Austin Stevens dares to seek.

This book is not about snakes or wildlife but how Austin Stevens made them part of his life and through his work in media made them part of ours.

Whether you want to know more about the man or the creatures he pursues, Running Wild is a fast-paced, fun read that only slows down enough to give reflective incite from a man who has a unique perspective on wildlife and has become one of its truly great ambassadors.

It is a must read.

To order your copy click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

Watch Coral Snake Eat Copperhead (Video)

Coral Snake

A couple of years ago I came across incredible video footage of a coral snake eating a copperhead.

It was the first amateur wildlife video I had seen in a very long time that actually shocked me.

Coral snakes regularly eat earth snakes but this is a fairly large copperhead, at least in comparison to the coral snake in the clip.

I am happy to share this footage here at The Wildlife Journalist® because it shows anything can happen in nature.

Thanks to Donna Grundy for sharing this amazing footage. Enjoy!

Chester Moore, Jr.

Tiger Comeback Possibilites Intriguing

April 1 is rife with prank stories with the ending tagline “April Fool’s Day”.

Dinosaurs have been rediscovered on remote islands, chimpanzees have been found using iPhones and that mermaid special on Discovery Channel was real-all according to various satirical sources on April 1.

That is why I was at first suspicious of a Jakarta Post headline that read “Wonogiri residents claim sightings of extinct Javan tiger.”

A number of residents in Nguntoronadi district, Wonogiri regency, Central Java, claim to have seen tigers that have been declared extinct in the Mount Pegat area. The local office of the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), however, was quick to dismiss the sightings as Javan leopards.

“I have seen Javan tigers on Mt. Pegat and forests around the mountain. I saw a tiger playing with her three cubs,” Mt. Pegat juru kunci (mountain attendant) Suratno, 58, said on Sunday.

The Javan Tiger was declared extinct decades ago although reports have been off and on through the years and increasingly recently.

A photo from Ujung Kulon National Park purporting to be a Javan tiger looks more like a leopard to me but it is inconclusive.

The Javan tiger, pictured here, was declared extinct many years ago. But does a small population survive? (Photo courtesy Wiki Common)

Still, reports of people who live in the forest and would know a leopard or other wildlife saying they have seen tigers-even with cubs is hopeful. Maybe the reports are not an April Fool’s gag after all.

I  have a source who revealed recent reports of tigers in remote areas of Turkey. That would be the Caspian tiger another allegedly extinct subspecies that once roamed across forested areas of the Middle East.

There is even an effort to reintroduced tigers into Kazakhstan which was once home of the Caspian variety. The plan would be to release Amur (Siberian) tigers which are the closest relative.

As a longtime advocate of tiger conservation, I must say all of this is very positive considering the immense decline in tiger populations over the last 100 years.

Technology is allowing us to get a deep glimpse at tiger habitat and is revealing things we never knew about the species. It is also letting us know that they are perhaps more resilient than we thought.

It is time to take bold steps to save tigers. We have laid out a plan for removing livestock killing tigers and placing them on remote islands. You can read that entry here.

Re-wilding captive cats should also be put on the table.

The most beautiful animal on the planet needs a win and if Javan tigers are proven to still exist or if Turkey reveals a hidden number of Caspian tigers or the restoration effort in Kazakhstan happens it will be a huge win.

Be on the look out here for many entries on tigers. The world needs to know the problems they face and that hope for these great cats still exists.

Chester Moore, Jr. 

 

 

Casey Anderson & Chester Moore Talk Bears, Giant Hogs

Casey Anderson has done it all when it comes to wildlife exploration and filmmaking.

The host of Expedition Wild and Expedition Grizzly along with many other programs, he is a passionate naturalist with a heart for introducing the public to wildlife and wild land via media outlets

Last week I had the pleasure of having Anderson in the studio on my program “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI. You can listen to that program below as we talk about the similarities between the habits of bears and feral hogs.

Chester Moore and Casey Anderson checking out hog habitat after the radio broadcast.

I have hypothesized here at The Wildlife Journalist® that feral hogs will take root in such a way in urban green belts and suburban sprawl that we will see truly giant hogs in areas that shock people.

During our exchange in the program Anderson made an interesting observation that grizzlies in Montana and brown bears in Alaska and the bears on Kodiak Island are the same animal.

The difference?

Diet.

Could hogs found in urban areas with no hunting pressure, plenty of food in certain areas and the potential to reach their maximum age grow to epic proportions?

The grizzlies in Montana are around 600 pounds, the bears in mainland Alaska can be up to 1,000. There have been 1,500 pound bears on Kodiak.

Think about that and apply it to hogs. It’s an interesting idea and it was an honor spending time with Anderson in the studio and talking about our mutual passion for wildlife.

Born and raised in East Helena, Montana, Anderson is a fifth generation Montanan and has been involved in Film and Television production for over a decade. His acting resume includes the television series Wild Wacky World, a role in the feature film, Iron Ridge, and National Geographic’s Expedition Wild. Please check out his IMDB page for a current list: Casey Anderson IMDB Also check Casey’s website: www.caseyanderson.tv

Chester Moore, Jr.

Podcast on Jack Hanna and a chance for your kid to become a World Wildlife Journalist

Meeting Jack Hanna

In the last post I wrote about “Jungle” Jack Hanna interacting with kids from our “Wild Wishes” program at Sea World San Antonio.

In this week’s mini-podcast I give you some behind the scenes details on the event and its impact on the kids-and me.

If you’re a fan of his you won’t want to miss. Click the player below to listen.

While on the subject of kids…

Do you have an animal-loving child between the ages of eight and 18?

What would you say if I told you they can be part of a powerful wildlife conservation group that helps endangered wildlife around the world?

And what if  told you it was free?

World Wildlife Journalists™ is an outreach for school-aged children that allows them to take part in helping threatened wildlife and learning media skills to do it. It’s all positive with no drama and no politics. Your child will never be part of ugly, heated debates over wildlife political issues like you see on cable television.

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They will however be part of a forward thinking outreach on behalf of the most incredible animals on the planet.

By simply signing up your child can become part of an important movement of youth involvement in conservation, take part in monthly online events and earn special prizes.

Here are the benefits:

*Special Membership Card

*World Wildlife Journalists™ Decal

*Monthly drawings & competitions featuring wildlife-related prizes

*Special Facebook page for parents and supervised children to participate in seminars, instructive clinics and conservation challenges.

*Monthly conservation challenges inspiring your child to use different media skills (writing, photography, video and art) to help raise awareness to wildlife issues.

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Click here and fill out the form at the bottom of the page so your child can become one of the World Wildlife Journalists™ and make a positive impact on endangered wildlife.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Sea World, Jack Hanna Make “Wild Wishes” Come True

Dream Come True

Sea World San Antonio—The kids were a bit starstruck. Actually I think the adult chaperones were as well.

As “Jungle” Jack Hanna, iconic television wildlife host and conservationist walked into the Nautilus Amphitheater, he greeted his fans warmly.

“I’m so glad to see you here. Thank you for coming to Sea World today,” Hanna said.

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The kids were part of the Wild Wishes program operated by our Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center®. Wild Wishes grants exotic animal encounters to children who have a terminal illness or have lost a parent or a sibling.

The kids that came along were either recipients of a wish or young people who have been trained to help grant wishes for other children.

Inspiring Wild Wish Kid

Facilitated by Sea World San Antonio this special, private experience was a dream come true for 10-year-old wish kid Jaxon who told Hanna he wants to host his own wildlife television program one day.

“So you want to do wildlife TV?” Hanna asked.

“That would be cool sir,” Jaxon replied as his hero patted him on the back.

Having watched Hanna many times on syndicated television, Jaxon has visions of traveling the world and encountering the animals of his dreams.

Fourteen-year-old Lauren who has helped by chaperoning and showing animals to more than two dozens kids at wish events over the last four years was excited to hear Hanna tell them how to be better ambassadors for wildlife.

“Allowing kids to safely see wildlife in an amazing park like this or a modern zoo or at a facility like yours is important. You have to touch the heart to move the mind and I know you all will be great at that,” he said.

The kids were allowed to hold a baby red kangaroo in a pouch and get an up close look at a Geoffrey’s cat, a gorgeous and tiny spotted feline from South America.

After watching Hanna’s fun and highly educational program that included a beautiful cheetah, the kids were fired up about wildlife conservation and helping other kids that come into the wish program know they can help wildlife as well.

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One of the wish kids, Madison Belden, is fighting cystic fibrosis but she is partnering with us to use her art to raise awareness to endangered species and raise funds to help various projects.

“Mr. Chester, I bet we can get more of these wish kids to do things like Madison is doing. It would be great to have kids who are facing challenges know they can be a part of helping wildlife that is also facing great challenges,” she said.

Those are wise words from an eighth grader and came after inspiration from one of the world’s top voices for wildlife in a park that has saved untold numbers of endangered sea turtles on the Texas coast.

Most recently they took in a baby endangered Cook’s Inlet beluga whale that was abandoned in the wild.

Wild Wishes came true because people cared for kids who care for wildlife.

It was a beautiful thing to see and it inspired us all to be better stewards of what the Lord put on this planet.

To support or learn more about the Wild Wishes program click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

No Room for Black-Footed Ferrets in Texas-Yet

Critically Endangered

The black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet.

Thought extinct in the mid 1980s, a surprise finding of a handful in 1987 spawned a capture and eventual captive breeding program that currently has 370 in the wild and more at facilities like the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center near Fort Collins, Co.

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U.S. Geological Survey Photo

In 2014, I spoke with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department biologist Calvin Richardson about ferret restoration possibilities in Texas and he gave some hopeful information.

During the recent meeting of the Texas Black-footed Ferret Working Group on August 12th, the working group members agreed that the drought and past years of drier than average conditions over the High Lonesome have created less than favorable conditions for prairie dog densities, which has direct implications for survival of black-footed ferrets. TPWD will therefore not seek to reintroduce ferrets in Texas in 2013, but instead focus on a potential reintroduction in 2014 on the High Lonesome next fall.

Problems with Man and Nature

That reintroduction never happened.

I spoke to Richardson Feb. 15 and he said private ranches in the Panhandle that had large prairie dog towns (necessary for ferrets) were no longer under consideration and that a public tract that has the right type of habitat and large prairie dog towns was recently hit by plague.

This is typical of the black-footed ferret’s story.

On one hand the poisoning of prairie dogs in the mid 20th century had a huge negative impact on these mustelids and in turn nature deals a cruel blow every time plague rips through a prairie dog town.

Richardson said TPWD’s Panhandle office has been busy dealing with potential endangered designations on several species including the western massasauga and the prairie chicken. Ferret reintroduction at least in that region seems to be off the table for the moment-or at least until conditions in the region change.

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The former range of the black-footed ferret.

The black-footed ferret once ranged across a huge portion of the west-central United States and perhaps one day they will again.

Their populations will never by back to their former glories but there is hope these unique predators will inhabit far more territory than they do now.

I hope my home state of Texas is included.

It would make the High Plains and the rugged Trans Pecos seem a little wilder and more complete.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Jim Fowler of “Wild Kingdom” Interview

Wild Kingdom

Growing up as a child in the late 1970s and early 80s, there was no Animal Planet and certainly not Youtube filled with millions of wildlife videos.

But there was “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” and it inspired me in grand fashion.

Hosted by Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler and in later years Peter Gros, the award-winning program brought wildlife into your home in a way that perhaps no other program has quite accomplished.

I had the honor and privilege of interview Jim Fowler in 2016 and I thought you might listening to that chat which was a true career highlight.

If you ever gathered around the television to watch this program or saw Mr. Fowler on one of his many late night television appearances this will be as special you as it was to me.

Chester Moore, Jr.

World Wildlife Journalists

Do you have an animal-loving child between the ages of eight and 18?

What would you say if I told you they can be part of a powerful wildlife conservation group that helps endangered wildlife around the world?

World Wildlife Journalists™ is an outreach for school-aged children that allows them to take part in helping threatened wildlife and learning media skills to do it. It’s all positive with no drama and no politics. Your child will never be part of ugly, heated debates over wildlife political issues like you see on cable television.

They will however be part of a forward thinking outreach on behalf of the most incredible animals on the planet.

By simply signing up your child can become part of an important movement of youth involvement in conservation, take part in monthly online events and earn special prizes.

Here are the benefits:

*Special Membership Card

*World Wildlife Journalists™ Decal

*Monthly drawings & competitions featuring wildlife-related prizes

*Special Facebook page for parents and supervised children to participate in seminars, instructive clinics and conservation challenges.

*Monthly conservation challenges inspiring your child to use different media skills (writing, photography, video and art) to help raise awareness to wildlife issues.

Click here for more information.

Is This The Biggest Wild Boar Ever Captured on Video?

Feb. 11 this video of a huge wild boar started cycling around Facebook

I normally do not share social media videos here but this one is deserving of commentary. While the details of this particular clip are sketchy there is no doubt this is an absolutely monstrous hog. The post was shared by a woman in Hong Kong and there is some sort of Asian script on the dumpsters.

This is not a domestic strain of hog.

It is a Eurasian boar and it is the largest one this author has ever seen on video.

A 2016 story at wideopenspaces.com shows photos on alleged 1,179-pound boar killed in Russia. And while the photos there are impressive, the author admits there is no way to tell if they had been manipulated.

Video is harder to fake.

So, how big of a hog are we dealing with?

Judging by the dumpsters, the other hogs and various items in the photo I am going out on a limb and saying this hog is easily over 700 pounds.

Could it be in the 1,000-pound range?

In North America, feral hogs weighing more than 500 pounds are rare but they do exist. Various sources say in parts of Asia Eurasian boars can top 650 pounds.

To give scale for exactly how big a hog this size would be look at this illustration. In my opinion it is easy to see this hog would be bigger than the average grizzly here.

Easily.

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The biggest wild hog I have gathered evidence of in the U.S. was this one captured on a game camera by Richard Trahan in Tyler Co. TX

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My estimates on size for this one judging from the size of that particular brand feeder which I investigated is 700 pounds.

“The bottom of the motor on this feeder is five feet, six inches from the ground,” Trahan said.

That hog is touching it standing flat-footed.

The one in this video is at least that big and likely much bigger.

The question is this a pen-raised Eurasian boar? If so, that would make a difference in terms of its rarity. A 650-pounder in the wild could easily get to 800 plus being overfed in captivity.

Most records of wild hog sizes come from hunters and there is very little hunting besides for food in many countries in the Eurasian boar’s native range. The only people worried about how big boars get are hunters who want bragging rights.

Most locals could care less.

Stories of true monster hogs have circulated for years and have always been a source of intrigue for me. I have encountered two 500 pound plug hogs in my home state of Texas and found tracks of one that was likely bigger.

We can debate the size of this beast and many likely will as it makes its rounds on social media.

One thing however is for sure.

Encountering such a beast would be an unforgettable experience and hopefully I would see it before it saw me.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Delisting Key Deer On Federal Agenda?

Key Deer

An article at the Miami Herald says that federal officials are quietly considering removing endangered status from the Florida Key Deer.

With population estimates showing numbers down to around 950 and recent population hits from screwworms and hurricanes it seems like an odd time to consider reducing their status to “threatened” according to retired biologist Tom Wilmers.

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A dehydrated Key Deer drinks water provided by USFWS at National Key Deer Refuge. (Photo by Dan Chapman?USFWS)

“Down-listing the Key deer to threatened is beyond absurd,” said Tom Wilmers, a deer biologist who retired from the National Key Deer Refuge after nearly 30 years. “Their habitat is horrible. They’ve been hit by a hurricane. There was the horrible situation with those screwworms. And now you’re going to talk about down-listing them? What is better than it was 25 years ago? Nothing.”

Endangered species have always been under the gun so to speak due to the controversial nature of the Endangered Species Act which at times has caused logging and other activities to cease.
And in recent years there has been a trend toward delisting subspecies of. Recently the Louisiana black bear was delisted, despite still low populations and it is not surprising to see these deer examined. There are those who argue that there is not much difference between a Louisiana black bear and other black bear subspecies so protection should come from states as they determine population levels in their territory, not from the federal government.
In the case of the Florida Key Deer there is a good chance this designation change will not happen due to the high-profile of the species. However, even considering changing their status is…well…strange.
My concern for the species with a delisting is that it will embolden wildlife smugglers and poachers to take a toll on an already decimated population.
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The key deer found smuggled last year. (US Fish and Wildlife Service Photo)
I have been on multiple Texas ranches that have more whitetail within their acreage than the Florida Keys have their namesake deer (950). When looking at situations like this it is all about perspective and I cannot help but think about the above statement and realizing a single disease outbreak or major storm could literally wipe out most of the remaining key deer. In this case I hope common sense and good science prevails and this national treasure retains the protection it deserves.

Chester Moore, Jr.