Category Archives: Animal Underground

Montana Officials Investigation Mysterious Canid-Shunka Warakin?

A strange wolf-like animal some say could be the mysterious Shunka Warakin was killed by a Montana rancher May 16.

It was so strange in fact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) officials are sending off samples for DNA testing.

As people are sending them question after question about the creature, here is what they had to say.

Photo Montana Fish, Wildlife And Parks

Here’s what is not in question: The animal came within several hundred yards of the rancher’s livestock. He shot it and reported it as required by law. The animal was a young, non-lactating female and a canid, a member of the dog family, which includes dogs, foxes, coyotes and wolves.

Those facts are not unusual in Montana’s farm and ranch county.

The animal originally was reported as a wolf, but several Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ wolf specialists looked at photos of the animal and collectively doubted it was a purebred wolf: the canine teeth were too short, the front paws too small and the claws on the front paw were too long.

Nevertheless, social media was quick to pronounce the animal as everything from a wolf to a wolf hybrid to something mythical.

Photo Montana Fish, Wildlife And Parks

Rather than guess, FWP reports said they sent the carcass to the Department’s lab in Bozeman where tissue samples will be collected, then shipped to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Laboratory in Ashland, Org.

In a laboratory, scientists extract DNA from cells, looking for markers specific to individual species. Those markers are then compared to samples of known species on hand.

While the process may take a week, just getting to that stage may take weeks or months, depending on the laboratory’s backlog of cases.

All of which means it may be awhile before the anyone really knows what the animal near Denton really was.

The most intriguing thing about this incident is that it happened in Montana where a well-known mysterious canid some call the aforementioned Shunka Warakin is preserved in a museum in Ennis, Montana.

Alleged “Shunka Warakin” in a museum in Montana.

You can read more about in an article by Loren Coleman presented here.

Could the animal killed May 16 and the mounted museum specimen be the same type of animal?

Strange road kills and game camera photos are commonplace but fish and game departments going as far as to DNA test and send out a news release is not.

We will keep you posted on this interesting animal as we learn more.

Chester Moore, Jr.

A Mexican wolf in TX? (Photo)

Mexican Wolf In Texas

I’ll never forget staring into the eyes of a big male Mexican gray wolf.

Its piercing eyes reflected a wild lineage that roamed the Southwest until the white man moved in with guns, traps and poison.

This was early in my career and the animal resided at a captive breeding facility where remnants of the highly endangered subspecies were being bred for release into the wild.

I shot tons of photos but they were lost in Hurricane flood damage-along with many others.

Since that time there have been numerous releases in New Mexico and even pups born in the wild there.

So, when Jaclyn Booth sent me this photo I took notice because the animal looked very much like the wolves I had seen at the facility so many years ago.

The photo came through our “The Wildlife Journalist” Facebook and had no information on where it came from.

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Photo courtesy Jaclyn Booth

My thought was “Wow, thats a gray wolf, probably a Mexican gray wolf.”

I messaged her to find out what state the photo came from and when she said it came from her ranch in Hall County, TX I was in shock.

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The photo below is a coyote from the same ranch and in fact at different angles of the same log. Compare this coyote and the canid in the above photo.

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Photo courtesy Jaclyn Booth

Now compare with this one of a Mexican gray wolf taken at the Alameda Park Zoo below. Notice the extreme likeness.

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Public Domain Photo
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Photo courtesy Jaclyn Booth

Wiped Out On Purpose

The Mexican gray wolf is indigenous to this part of the world but like all other representative of Canis lupus was wiped out due to government predator control and unregulated killing on ranches.

Is there a remnant pocket of these hailing from the captive breeding program in New Mexico? Or maybe a rogue wanderer?

It is possible but unlikely.

After all a gray wolf radio collared in Michigan was killed by a bowhunter in Missouri in 2001. That’s a much longer journey that New Mexico to Hall County, TX.

Is there a remnant pocket of Mexican gray wolves in North Texas and perhaps even in the Trans Pecos?

In 2013 I had a professional trapper who has trapped and killed thousands of coyotes tell me of seeing a Mexican gray wolf near Alpine, TX the year previous. He was adamant at what he saw.

Is there a possibility of having Mexican gray wolf-coyote hybrids (that maybe lean heavily on wolf appearance) in the region?

Absolutely. It has been proven that coyotes and gray wolves hybridize by numerous researchers.

I will be writing a lot about wild canids of the United States this year and will be posting photos, videos and research.

Are there Mexican wolves in Texas?

The jury is still out but on a ranch in Hall County there is definitely an animal that looks a whole lot like one.

More to come…

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

Chester Moore, Jr. 

 

Mystery Animal Photographed in Central Texas

You never know what you’re going to see traveling through the Texas Hill Country at night. Sometimes you come across a true mystery animal.

Geoffrey Bennett submitted these photos (after posting on his Facebook) of an animal his brother saw and was able to capture these images of as it climbed a rock wall.

Exact location has not been given nor would we give it but it’s safe to say it is in the beautiful limestone-encrusted Edwards Plateau.

On the initial posts several people chimed in with thoughts including jaguarundi, ringtail and lemur.

It’s definitely not a ringtail or lemur.

Jaguarundi was my first thought at seeing the photo below but after seeing the next one in the series I am convinced this is a kinkajou (Potus flavus). These rainforest dwellers are the only member of the genus “Potos” and are sometimes called a “honey bear”.

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Photo courtesy Jeffrey Bennett

The tail is what tipped me off. Kinkajous have a prehensile (climbing/gripping able) tail and this one is curled up. I have a kinkajou at our Kingdom Zoo: Wildlife Center and his named is “Irwin”.

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Photo courtesy Jeffrey Bennett

His tail is always curled up.

Plus the body and head just look kinkajou and if you look close enough you can see what looks like a collar.

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Our kinkajou “Irwin” taking a nap in his hide.

If this is a kinkajou, what is it doing in the Texas Hill Country?

They are common animals at zoos and wildlife parks and are not a rare pet. In fact, for those who like exotics they make a much smaller and generally safer pet than say a lion.

My suspicion this is someone’s pet that escaped.

What do you think of the identify of this cool-looking animal?

Post your comments below.

Have you seen anything like this? We’d love to see the photos.

We appreciate Mr. Bennett giving us access to these pics and sharing this unique encounter with us wildlife lovers.

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

Chester Moore, Jr.

Mysterious Growls Pose Controversial Question

An enraged cacophony of mysterious growls, yells, and grunts broke the silence of the darkened forest.

While rabbit hunting in a remote East Texas creek bottom, my father and I happened onto something that did not appreciate our being there. With each passing moment the noisemaker seemed more agitated as it increased the intensity of its furious-sounding cries.

The sounds were guttural and and they pierced my 12-year-old soul, permanently embedding their frequencies in my memory bank. Although it is impossible to accurately describe them, they still echo in my mind as if I were standing by my Dad right now, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.

I knew something was wrong when my Dad told me it must be a bull that got loose from a nearby ranch, as we retreated from the woods and called off the hunt.

No bull sounded like this. Not even close.

Neither of us had heard anything remotely like this again until August 20, 2000 while accompanying our friend Bobby Hamilton on an investigation into strange sightings in Polk County, TX.

It had been a long night as we sat out between a creek bottom and pine thicket. Other than a few faint moans heard in the distance, the venture was uneventful. That is until about 4 a.m.

That is when a low grunt sounded from a thicket 40 yards to the west.

Hamilton and I responded with grunts of our own and the mysterious noisemaker replied with great fury. A chill ran down my spine as memories of our encounter 15 years earlier came back. The tone was the same and so was the feeling we were in the presence of something highly unusual. This creature was without question the same kind that ran Dad and I out of the woods so long ago.

It started with low volume grunts and then worked itself into a yelling frenzy until it let out a high-pitched roar that can only be described as terrifying. After fumbling through our packs, we flooded the woods with the powerful beacon of a million-candle Q-Beam flashlight and the noisemaker retreated. Although it had approached us silently, it left cracking brush and snapping branches along the way almost as if it wanted us to know it was gone.

Just nine months before the aforementioned event, I encountered a howler monkey while fishing on Venezuela’s Lake Guri.

My guide and interpreter called the monkey a “mono vil” or “mean monkey” and after messing with one of the creatures, it is easy to understand why. As we approached more closely, it jumped from branch to branch, snapping limbs and increasing the intensity of its yells. Finally, I decided to do a series of grunts and see how the animal responded.

I would grunt and it would grunt. I would grunt twice and it would grunt twice. And finally, tired of my harassment, the monkey let out a loud roar and disappeared into the dense canopy of the South American rainforest

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Is there a relative of the howler monkey prowling East Texas? (Public Domain Photo)

This was virtually the exact behavior and very similar sound to what occurred 3,000 miles to the north nine months later.

The difference was we were investigating the sighting of large, hair, bipedal ape-like creatures most call “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch”. This particular case involved a public school teacher Hamilton had met who reported numerous encounters.

The encounters listed above sent me on a quest into the Animal Underground as a wildlife journalist to look into this phenomenon. Whether this is all a mass public delusion, a huge and complex series of hoaxes or something really is out there it is a huge story for someone in my position.

Did we hear a sasquatch creature that night? That is if such a creature exists.

Most won’t touch the subject with a 10 foot pole due to the controversial nature but that does not bother me. I am too curious to let the opinions of others halt a genuine investigation.

These two stories are some of the highlights on what has been an interesting sort of side trail taken in a career of wildlife journalism.

I wish I could tell you with certainty what the source of these encounters was but I do know this. We heard growls out there that matched nothing that lives in Texas either native or exotic.

Speaking of those growls.

I will never forget them.

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

Chester Moore, Jr.

Weird wildlife of America with Ken Gerhard (Podcast)

We take a deep dive into the unknown with author/explorer/television host/cryptozoologist Ken Gerhard on a recent edition of “Moore Outdoors”.

In it we talk everything from chupacabra to Bigfoot to mysterious winged animals and the fact that to research the unexplained you need a really good grasp of the explainable.

Ken is a phenomenal guest. You don’t want to miss this edition.

Loren Coleman and Chester Moore talk Patterson Gimlin film (Podcast)

On Friday Oct. 20, Chester Moore had renown cryptozoology author  Loren Coleman on as a special guest on “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.

The program was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the controversial Patterson/Gimlin film that allegedly depicts as a Bigfoot creature crossing a stretch of Bluff Creek in northern California.

If you have an interest in this topic you do not want to miss this episode.

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Patterson/Gimlin film 50 Years Later

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the most controversial wildlife footage ever captured.

On Oct. 20, 1967 Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin captured on film what they alleged was a Bigfoot (sasquatch) creature on a desolate stretch of Bluff Creek in northern California.

This is the footage that plays in virtually every sasquatch-based television special and even in commercials.

Frame 352 showing the film’s subject walking with its arms swinging is the template for hundreds of products in the cottage industry that has grown up around the sasquatch phenomenon and even the arm swing itself is used in many obvious fake videos over the years.

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Frame 352 of the Patterson/Gimlin film. (Fair Use Doctrine)

This footage has been analyzed more than any other than the Zapruder film showing the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Numerous individuals have claimed the film was a fake and claimed to have been the man in the suit or that they actually created it.

One man even claims it was made from red horse hair.

Roger Patterson who was holding the camera that day died of cancer in 1972 and maintained what they filmed was real.

Bob Gimlin who is still living and until recent years has mainly avoided the topic also maintains he and his partner captured the image of a living sasquatch, not a man in a suit.

There have been many alleged sasquatch videos captured in the last 50 years but why does this one not only endure but remain the epicenter of media attention on the topic?

As a wildlife journalist I have wrestled with the question many times over the last 25 years.

I have an interest in the topic and have done my share of field research and investigating eyewitnesses. In my opinion this whole phenomenon is important because it is either the greatest source of mass fraud and hallucination the wildlife world has ever seen or its a truly epic discovery waiting to happen.

And I personally get tired of the film itself outshining other aspects of the phenomenon. There are some legitimately interesting things happening on the scientific end of this search.

But the fact remains if it is a fake, why haven’t many better ones been produced since then?

How could two cowboys in an era where Planet of the Apes was the shining example of costume makeup effects produce something that no one has even gotten close to getting?

Not a single alleged sasquatch video is as clear, close up and contains anywhere near as much detail as the Patterson/Gimlin film.

Not even close.

A question that must be asked is if it was so easy to fake in 1967 why haven’t there been many more much better fakes come out as special makeup effects technology has increased dramatically?

Even the BBC with a budget much bigger than Patterson and Gimlin’s abilities failed to produce anything that looked even remotely as realistic as what was captured on Bluff Creek 50 years ago.

Either it is a fake or the most important wildlife footage ever captured. There are no in-betweens.

That is why today this is a worthy subject to write about and the entire phenomenon is one that although problematic in many ways deserves further investigation.

Wildlife filming history was made 50 years ago.

Whether the film is legitimate or not may never be settled but without any doubt the Patterson/Gimlin film has its place in history.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Enter the Animal Underground

I once walked into the mouth of an old railroad tunnel.

Covered in vines and decaying it looked a bit ominous, even from a distance.

Many years previous trains would cut through as they winded through the limestone encrusted hills of the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas.

Now the tunnel is home to more than a million of Mexican free tail baits.

Passing by during the day or even walking nearby one would never know of their presence unless they maybe caught a sniff of the guano (bat dung).

But at night, these bats exit the tunnel and travel into the darkness in pursuit of insects and they return before dawn.

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In the 1800s, a network of safe houses and secret routes called the “Underground Railroad” saw thousands of African American slaves find their way to freedom out of states where slavery was legal.

Thinking about the tunnel reminded me there is an underground network of sorts for animals, paths in which they can travel without the system taking notice.

The animals themselves of course are not aware of it although by sheer instinct they use it to their advantage.

It is a mindset in the culture of wildlife viewing, academia, media coverage and the hunting and fishing community that things with wildlife are supposed to go “by the book” and anything challenging the official narrative is ignored outright assailed.

In 2002, I spent a day in the field in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana with researchers David Luneau and Martian Lammertink in search of the ivory-billed woodpecker, a species at the time considered extinct. Zeiss Sports Optics sponsored a truly rare look at a species often reported but believed long gone.

We never saw any ivory bills but I saw two men intent on at least searching out what could be an incredibly important find.

In 2004, Luneau obtained a video in Arkansas that the US Fish and Wildlife Service itself considers to be an ivory bill-a previously though extinct bird.

It goes along with other recordings and research suggesting there are a few ivory bills out there.  However, the official narrative is the species is still lost.

Many don’t want to touch the topic with a 10 foot pole.

Ivorybills?!

Did they ever exist anyway?

That’s what many act like.

And its this very lack of “official” interest that allows such species to hide in the shadows beyond the attention of those who can verify and perhaps save certain ones.

Most scientists tow the line on mysterious wildlife because their careers are centered on grants and anything outside the norm might rock the financial boat too much.

The hunting and fishing community dodges controversial wildlife topics for fear of government intervention especially in relation to the Endangered Species Act.

Amateur naturalists are quick to skip over the mysterious for fear of public ridicule and loss of access to property.

And the media doesn’t really care unless they can spin it into the next viral story, often shaming those who are dare to question things or belittling the off the wall topics altogether.

I am too curious to ignore the stories that require stepping into the shadows. I crave the opportunity to pursue mysteries of the wildlife kind-controversial or not.

Growing up in the 80s, the intro to syndicated horror anthology series Tales from the Darkside used to terrify me.

That is terrify me enough to watch.

Man lives in the sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But… there is, unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit… a Darkside. (Series Intro)

I won’t call the animal underground a “dark side” in terms of evil but it certainly not as brightly lit as what most see.

Maybe it’s time to light a candle.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

Smallest mature whitetail buck ever? Micro deer exist! (Photos & more)

“It was the size of a labrador retriever”.

My late uncle Jackie Moore was a man of few words but when he told a story it always seemed to have an interesting twist.

“It crossed the road in front of us on in San Saba and it had a full eight point rack but it was half the size of a normal whitetail.”

He related that account several times and after his passing I mentioned it to my father (his brother) and was shocked at what I heard.

“I saw one of those little bucks down in San Saba too. We hunted the same lease and I saw one there. It was half the size of the other bucks with a full rack.”

Considering the Texas Hill Country has some of the nation’s smallest deer, that would put the weight of this tiny buck at around 40 pounds.

After pondering this I started looking for photographic evidence.

Photos of someone holding a super tiny fawn that fits in one’s hands circulate on the net and often  claim they are whitetail. They are not. Those are muntjac deer which hail from Asia and only get to about 35 pounds at adulthood.

Here’s a shot of me with a muntjac fawn that was a couple of weeks old when the photo was taken.

After blogging on this issue last fall a reader sent a photo that is without a doubt the best proof of “micro whitetails” I have ever seen and this is the first time it has been published.

Reader “Alonzo” sent in this photo from a game camera.

Notice the small buck is in the foreground so it should appear larger than the one in the background. That means this deer is indeed a tiny one and would fit the size description of the ones my Dad and Uncle encountered in Central Texas more than 40 years ago.

In conducting an Internet search on the topic I found several references.

We use to have one where I went to college. Can’t remember what everyone named it but it was a dwarf deer. People would see it all the time and it was about half the size of a normal adult deer as well. These deer were very tame too as they were never hunted in an urban area so you could get fairly close to them. Use to trap deer there and then tackle them so we could put tags in them and do some research. Tried to get the mini but never did get him to go in one of the traps. (From T_3 Kyle on Taxidermy.net)

I was watching some hunting show. I can’t remember which one it was, but they showed a midget whitetail buck walking down a trail. It was neat looking, short stubby legs and it had a nice little rack too. (From JMBFishing2008 on Indianasportsman.com)

The Key Deer is the smallest subspecies of whitetail and it is found only in the Florida Keys chain of islands. The next smallest is the Carmen Mountains Whitetail found in a remote mountainous region of West Texas and northern Mexico.

The Key Deer is the smallest whitetail deer subspecies.
The Key Deer is the smallest whitetail deer subspecies. (Photo courtesy Wiki Commons)

Is there a recessive gene akin to dwarfism in whitetails? Have you seen one of these deer? If you then shoot us over a report or preferably a photo or video link to chester@kingdomzoo.com.

Whitetails are the most common large animal in North America and the idea of micro versions running about is truly fascinating.

Chester Moore, Jr.

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Do white cougars exist?

Black cougars do not exist.

At least none have been verified by science, killed by hunters, mounted by taxidermists or reared in zoos and other animal facilities.

But are there white ones?

In January 2016 an interesting story broke via KLTV out of Tyler, TX. Landowner Mitchell Cox of Hughes Springs captured on video what he and many others thinks is a “white panther”.

“When I first saw the white animal, the first thing I thought was, it was a dog. I feel blessed to actually be able to see it,” said landowner Mitchell Cox in the KLTV story.

“The cat jumps across about a six foot creek there. At first, my initial thought was it was an edited video, but upon talking to people I believe it’s true. A white albino mountain lion,” investigator Hershel Stroman, of the Morris County Sheriff’s Office told KLTV officials.

The video is interesting and the animal moves like a cougar but without a closer video (this one was short 50 yards away) it is difficult to tell. Watch it below.

The photo included here is a standard color cougar rendered in Adobe Photoshop to show what a white specimen might look like.

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A computer rendering of a standard cougar to show what it might look like in white form.   (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

In 2011 a white cougar was born at the Attica Zoological Park in Greece and was aptly named “Casper”. That alone is more proof of white cougar existence than has ever come forward for that of black specimens.

It is important to keep in mind the large black cats seen in zoos and on television or black (melanistic) jaguars or leopards. They are not a separate species called a “black panther”.

“Panther” is one of many terms used for Felis concolor along with cougar, mountain and puma but it has nothing to do with them being black.

A high resolution video or photo of a white cougar would be a major discovery in the United States and cause a major wave of interest among those who study wild cats.

The public has a major fascination with unusual white and albino animals.

Whether they are deer or wild cats there is something mysterious and majestic about an elusive white animal like the revered white buffalo of the Great Plains.

Chester Moore, Jr.