Category Archives: Animal Americana

Death Of The Last American Jaguar

Only three jaguars were verified to live within the United States according to the latest scientific research. One of those three male jaguar named Yo’oko was just verified killed by a poacher.

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According to an article at LiveScience.com the rosette patterns on a jaguar’s pelt are unique to each individual, a trait that allowed officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to identify Yo’oko’s pelt in a photo sent to them from the Tucson-based Northern Jaguar Project.

(Listen to my emergency radio transmission on the last American jaguar at the link below. This is a must listen!)

It’s unclear when Yo’oko died or who killed him, but the Arizona Daily Star reported today (June 28) that he may have been killed by a mountain lion hunter. A local rancher, Carlos Robles Elias, told the Arizona Daily Star that he heard from a friend that the jaguar was trapped and killed six months ago somewhere in Sonora, Mexico, near the U.S. border.

And while this jaguar and two others have been known to move into and out of the United States, no one knows where the other two are and how much time they actually spend on the US side of the border.

Virtually all of the jaguars verified in the United States in the last decade are believed to move in and out of Mexico.

This could literally mean the last jaguar in America is dead.

This particular incident means a lot more than the media is stating which is why I issued an emergency broadcast of The Wildlife Journalist® radio.

You can click the link above to the listen the podcast and learn exactly how symoblic and tragic this patricular incident is in the realm of the big cat of the Americas. Action needs to be taken and I believe great things can come out of this tragedy if people wake up.

Chester Moore, Jr. 

(To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com. To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page.)

Coyote (Coywolf?) Pups Show Playful Side (Video)

Wild canids are special to me. On the North American front I am particularly fond of red wolves, coyotes and their hybrids the “coywolf”.

The red wolf is declared extinct in the wild other than a handful of captive-bred animals that have been released into various remote areas. The reason for extinction designation was hybridization with coyotes-accacerbated by wholesale slaughter under the guise of predator control.

The term “coywolf” is most often used for gray wolf/coyote hybrids but it is equally fitting for the offspring of coyotes and red wolves.

My friend Mark Hines has for the last three years been getting the most amazing videos of a family of animals I believe has some red wolf in their lineage down the road. These are from Orange County, TX in an area literally less than five miles away from where the last “pure” red wolves were captured for the federal breeding program in 1980.

Mark has given us an incredible look into the lives of these animals that are no doubt mostly coyote but look like they have some red wolf in the gene pool as well. These clips show puppies born this spring.

Naturalists like Mark are an important part of keeping the awareness of wildlife at a high  level and allowing us to get an incredible glimpse at some things rarely seen by human eyes.

Chester Moore, Jr.

(To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com. To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page.)

Box Turtle Kills and Eats Rattlesnake (Video And Photos)

When Diane James walked into her backyard in Post, TX she did not expect to see a rattlesnake. Nor did she expect to see an ornate box turtle killing and eating the rattlesnake.

Photo Courtesy Diane James

But that is exactly what she saw and was able to capture on video and with still images.

It might be hard to imagine a box turtle-a cute species often kept as pets killing and eating a rattlesnakes but these turtles are omnivores. That means they eat plant and vegetable material.

When I was just of high school, a science teacher in Wichita, KS who kept a box turtle in his classroom put a small live mouse in its enclosure and the turtle attacked and ate it.

I was stunned.

A mouse is one thing but a rattlesnake is another and this particular box turtle does it with reckless abandon. I hope you enjoy this unique look into the trials and tribulations of nature. To watch a coral snake eating a copperhead click here.

If you want a look into wildlife you will find nowhere else subscribe to this blog by entering your email address at the bar on the top right side of the page.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Photo Courtesy Diane James

While I have you here…

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

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*Monthly drawings & competitions featuring wildlife-related prizes

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

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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.

Red and Yellow Means Friendly Fellow?

“Hey man, red and yellow means friendly fellow.”

Those words would have been laughable if they were not coming from a young teenage boy who was dangling a 2.5 foot long Texas coral snake over his hand.

Wrapped around a stick it was within striking distance and this kid thought he had caught a scarlet king snake.

When I told him it was a coral snake and he needed to allow me to take it from him, he give me the deadly mistaken version of the children’s poem to distinguish venomous coral snakes from their mimickers.

That’s when I replied, “No kid it means KILL a fellow.”

At that point I walked over, pulled the stick out of his hand and told him he was flirting with disaster.

He really did think this was a scarlet king snake which lives nowhere near Orange, TX where this occurred. We do have the Louisiana milk snake but this was the genuine article-a real and large coral snake.

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A Louisiana milk snake I photographed in 2013. 

His plan was to sneak the snake past his mom and keep it in his sock drawer. Some 20 years later, I use this story every time I bring out one of our milk snakes to let kids know that if you have to rely on poetry to identify snakes you could get in trouble.

I have no doubt if I had not seen the kid walking down the street he would have gotten bitten and possibly died. Coral snake bites are very serious.

A recent story about an Alabama man named Jeffrey Phillips shows the sad result of mishandling wild snakes.

Phillips’ children were the first to spot the snake. Initially thinking the serpent was a harmless king snake, Phillips decided to catch it and give the snake as a gift to his older brother, who has owned snakes in the past

At the time of this writing he was in the hospital paralyzed and fighting for his life, a truly tragic situation.

The owner of Reptile World Serpentarium in St. Cloud, Fl., Van Horn is passionate about snakes and besides exhibiting more than 50 species, keeps hundreds for the sole purpose of extracting venom-including coral snakes.
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Here’s me filming with a very large coral snake in Texas in 2014 for an educational piece I was doing about encountering snakes in urban areas.  I took extreme precautions and NEVER free-handled this snake. Bad idea.

“You see this. These are fangs,”  VanHorn said as he carefully rolled open the mouth of an eastern coral snake while I filmed there a few years ago.

The tiny fangs were in the front of the snake’s mouth and destroy the commonly held myth that coral snakes are rear-fanged and must chew on a person to inject venom.

“They are elapids just like cobras and they have the same skull structure. I don’t know where these rumors came from but they are persistent,” VanHorn said.

He went on to say that most coral snake bites result from people picking them up and it is often young men.

“Women typically don’t go around picking up venomous snakes. And a coral snake has a very dangerous venom that is difficult to treat so people shouldn’t fool with them,” he said.

Coral snakes like all other snake species are not out to get anyone but they are fully capable of hurting someone if they are toyed with. The best thing to do with them is leave them alone and feel blessed you saw one of the strikingly beautiful reptiles in the world.

The moral of the story?

Don’t tread on the coral snake.

Chester Moore, Jr.

America’s Great Cat Finds A Home

Cougar.

Mountain lion.

Panther.

Those along with puma, catamount and ghost cat are all regional names for what science calls Puma concolor.

This is America’s great cat of the Sierra Nevadas, Florida swamps and Texas brush country and last week a very important one found a new home.

Craig DeRosa brought his cougar “Takoda'” on a 19-hour trek to Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

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Takoda checks out his new home at Bear Creek Feline Center.

Takoda has served as an ambassador for the species, having appeared on national television and also as a loved companion to his owner.

It was however time for this cat to make a home among others of its kind and serve out the rest of its days inspiring thousands of annual visitors to the facility.

“We’re excited to have this beautiful cat here at Bear Creek Feline Center,” said founder Jim Broaddus.

“Cougars are such an exceptional beauty and representative of wildness and Takoda is quite a striking cat. He fits right in.”

This facility has taken in many cats, some well cared for like Takoda and others not so much. While they have been a refuge for cats in need of a transition from different private captive settings, the key here is education.

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Bear Creek Feline Center is home to the super rare Florida Panther.

“When people see a cat like this in a safe and intimate setting it moves their heart. People can see their grace and beauty and then we can help teach them how important they are to the ecosystem,” Broaddus said.

Along with servals, Siberian lynx, bobcats and jaguarundis, there are cougars from several subspecies including the highly endangered Florida Panther.

“There is a lot of diversity among cougars and they inhabit everywhere from Canada to Argentina and a lot of people don’t know that. We are glad to educate people and when we have a chance to take in these animals it helps to make it real to the public. There is something special about seeing these cats in person,” Broaddus said.

My life at age 14  was changed when I saw a cougar making its way over a rice levee in Orange County, TX.

At a distance of only 10 yards, we locked eyes for a moment and many years later that is a feeling I cannot shake.

And I do not want to.

In its eyes I saw wildness and have spent my entire professional career trying to communicate to the general public how important wildness and wild animals are-in large part due to that encounter.

As Takoda walked out of his transport enclosure into this spacious new home, I saw a familiar gleam in its eye.

It reminded me of the cat I saw so many years ago and made me excited for its prospects representing its kind-the great cat of America.

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.

(To contact Chester Moore e-mail chester@chestermoore.com. To subscribe to this blog enter your email address in the box on the top right of this page.)

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.

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.

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.

Coyote and Armadillo Are Playmates (Video)

The Coyote And The Armadillo

An ancient Hebrew text prophesies that one day the “…the wolf will live the the lamb, the leopard with the calf and a little child will lead them.”

But what about the coyote and the nine-banded armadillo?

In Southeast Texas, armadillos are regular prey items for coyotes, however in this series of videos filmed by naturalist Mark Hines it is obvious this coyote and an armadillo have a bit of a friendship going.

The first two videos are from the same day but the third is nearly a month later. There have been numerous cases of predators interacting with prey in playful fashion but this is the first time we have seen this with a coyote and armadillo.

This is a fairly young coyote that Hines has captured on video many times but it is with a pack that includes mature individuals that live in the same relatively small area. That implies that all of the coyotes are tolerating the armadillo that as of yet has not met its demise, at least not on camera.

Hines has captured some captivating videos over the last few years that show a side to not only coyotes but some animals we believe have strong red wolf genetics (coywolves if you will) doing some pretty incredible things.

We will be sharing some of these videos in the coming months and giving a look at these animals in an area where few studies have been conducted on the species.

Many believe the coyote is the most adaptable mammal in North America and as someone who has had many dealings with them, including the group in Hine’s videos I concur.

They are truly intelligent creatures that can survive in the shadow of many and apparently in the presence of armadillos as well.

(To subscribe to The Wildlife Journalist blog enter your email at the top right of this page.)

Chester Moore, Jr.