Category Archives: Mysterious Wildlife

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.

Monkey encounters deer at hunter’s feeder (photos)

Last week’s posts on feral snow monkeys in Texas have garnered a tremendous amount of interest.

Our goal is always to raise awareness to wildlife and in the case of exotics it is good to let people know there are strange encounters to be had-it seems especially in my home state of Texas.

Bart Moore read our story and graciously shared a story from his deer lease in South Texas and some a truly remarkable series of photos.

My brother-in-law is also on the lease and he was the first one that I know of that encountered one on our lease while hunting.  He was in the middle of a field in a ground blind when he saw some movement.  He looked over and saw a monkey headed in his direction.  The macaque noticed him just after he saw him and immediately puffed out his chest and got very red.  He walked in his direction and veered off before he was too close. For good measure, my brother-in-law had him in his sights the whole time with no intention of shooting him unless he was attacked.

Fast forward to last year and I was sitting in a blind one morning watching a doe and two fawns eating some corn from the feeder.  I noticed something too small for a deer on the ground and at first assumed it was a pig.  I glassed the animal and found that it was not a pig but was a monkey clearly on our side of the fence.  I took out my iPhone and snapped several pics with the phone up against my scope that are attached.

Dilley Monkey 1
The monkey enters the scene.
Dilley Monkey 2
Inching closer. Curious George maybe?

 

Dilley Monkey 3
“The funniest picture is the one where the monkey looks like he is swiping at the deer as they run off, in reality he is just reaching higher up the leg of the feeder.” (Bart Moore)
Dilley Monkey 5
Bart Moore says the money did not spook the deer. Something else did.
Dilley Monkey 6
“He slowly came down the leg after several seconds and then proceeded to puff out his chest and walk off into the brush”. (Bart Moore)

I can’t possibly thank Mr. Moore enough for sharing these photos. It seems these animals have found a niche and the hunters in the area have a live and let live policy. Good for them.

These monkeys are making things interesting.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

“Black panther” captured on TX game camera?

“Black panther” reports are common in the American South.

Accounts of mysterious black cats crossing the road in front of motorists or seen by hunters are frequent but rarely backed up by photography.

In my 25 years of wildlife journalism I have learned most people assume the animals they are seeing are black (melanistic) cougars. The problem is cougars do not produce melanistic offspring and there has never in history been one documented by science.

So, what are people seeing?

That question is broad and we will dive into that in another post, however one possible solution is the jaguarundi.

The late Don Zaidle who wrote extensively on man-eating animals was doing some research on wild cats and suggested 16 years ago I look at the jaguarundi as a possible “black panther” suspect. Shortly after I actually saw one of these cats and it sort of clicked that people could be seeing these animals and call them a “black panther”.

After all, virtually no one outside of hardcore wildlife fans even knows that jaguarundi exists so “black panther” is a quick an easy label to give them.

These photos came from B. Harper who got them on a game camera near the Texas-Mexico line.

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jaguarundi tail

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My friend Jim Broaddus operates Bear Creek Feline Center near Panama City, Fla. and has some of the only captive jaguarundi in America. Here is what he had to say about the photos.

“The first image looks 100 percent like a jaguarundi. The second one of the tail looks promising.  The third one throws me off. If it’s a jaguarundi it been eating better than most and the head seems too large to me,” Broaddus said.

I will add that the photo of the tail also looks promising because of the slate gray coloration of the fur. That is classic jaguarundi although they can be even darker and a solid brown color as well.

Below is a crop and lighting enhanced version of the third photo. Keep in mind this is in a part of the country where all five native Texas cat species once dwelled and may possibly do so to this day. These are the bobcat, cougar, ocelot, jaguar and jaguarundi.

When people hear “black panther” they think of cats like the one below but this is a black leopard-a genetic variant of the typical Asian and African species. We are not talking about leopards or jaguars which also produce black offspring in this scenario.  As I said we’ll cover all of that in another blog.

1leopard

What do you think is the identify of this mysterious cat? Like Broaddus I am sold on photo 1 being jaguarundi but also believe photo 2 is one as well. Photo 3 is up for grabs but it could also be a jaguarundi as well. Some say it is a domestic house cat but there is something about it that I can’t pinpoint. Ah, maybe in my next post I can figure it out.

E-mail chester@kingdomzoo.com with your thoughts and share this post with others to get their opinion.

Don’t forget you can subscribe to this blog by entering your email in the top right bar on this page.

Chester Moore, Jr.

what is this cat black panther

More on Texas feral monkeys (Photos & Stories)

Wow!

The response to our story on feral monkeys in South Texas has been tremendous. Click here to read in case you missed it. If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.

Since our original posting we have received several interesting stories and photos from people who have encountered these animals.

First up is an account shared by Rico Ramirez.

I had a client of mine who hunted near Dilley, TX. His story was quite haunting.  He stated that it was during the peak of the rut season.  It was very early In the morning when he was in  the stand. All I know is that it was still dark.  He had his small lamp with him.  He was reading a magazine when he heard a huge bump and the stand actually felt like it moved. He said the  bump and thump was getting louder as if someone was on the stand.  He said he reached for his pistol not knowing if it was an illegal, smuggler, or run away inmate.  He shined his flashlight through the window out of the door when it got quiet.  Then he said the noise was then on the roof of the blind.  He was in survival mode and scared.  He said there was a window that was open for air when he saw a small human like hand was trying to get in.  He said the hand was moving in an up and down motion. The hand was somewhat furry. He said he ran out the door leaving most of his gear in the stand.   He didn’t return till sunrise got his things and called the land owner.

He went on to say the landowner said it was probably one of those (fill in the blank) monkeys.

A gentleman from Richland Rock Resources shared this photo from a few years ago of one of the monkeys near a drill site in Cotulla, TX.

monkey gate

This message came from Becky Rubin.

I, unfortunately don’t have a photo to share of these monkeys in Texas. But I do have a story. In the late seventies, or early 80s I took a Primate Behavior class at UT. We took a field trip to see these Japanese macaques and camped over night. It was a fantastic experience to have the monkeys run up to the cars and be so close to them. I’d love to see photos from any other UT student’s visits to Dilley.  loved reading the article. It brought back a really fun memory!

Well, Becky we do have a photo for you.

Lorrie Ramirez took a special topic course in Primate Behavior in the Spring of ’95, when she was an undergrad student at The University of Texas-Pan American and documented her encounter.

We went to observe the macaques in Dilley as part of our course work. In this picture, I was pretending to eat like the macaques were and moved in close to get this shot. Just thought I would share.

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People often see things in the wild they cannot explain. Coming across a Japanese macaque in the arid thorn-infested brush country of South Texas would certainly confuse most people.
We believe it is important to educate people about all aspects of wildlife and even appreciate the oddities in the field. In fact, we tend to seek those things out most often due to the curiosity of me and my family and the passionate response of those who follow this blog.
Once again if you have photos, video or accounts of these monkeys or other feral primates not only in Texas but anywhere in the United States please send to chester@kingdomzoo.com.
If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.
Chester Moore, Jr.

Feral monkeys in Texas (photo and more)

The thorn-filled plains of South Texas are the epitome of biodiversity. From the gorgeous green jay to the massive indigo snake the region is a wildlife haven.

As a veteran bowhunter (who wishes to remain anonymous) climbed into a stand overlooking a drying creek bottom he wondered if the big whitetail buck he had been pursuing would reveal itself this evening.

It is after all what drew him here and with the wind blowing into his face and away from what he thought was the buck’s bedding area, everything was perfect.

There was one small glitch.

He did however get to the stand a late and he would only have about an hour before dark to make it happen.

That’s “ok” he figured as these are the minutes when the wild lands come alive.

Then he heard it.

A high-pitched bellowing scream that echoed throughout the bottoms.

As his adrenaline production went into overload, he pondered what might be making the sound and why it was coming his direction. The screams got louder and louder, so he readied an arrow just incase.

snow-monkey
Photo courtesy M. Odom

Suddenly from out of the underbrush walked a large monkey. With a pinkish-red face and gray body it walked along the edge of the treeline before eventually disappearing into the shadows.

It was a shocking sight for sure. How did a monkey end up in South Texas?

Well, at at least it was not the monster he had pictured in his imagination.

There exists an area in the South Texas Plains where a population of Japanese macaques live and they have a long, bizarre story.

National Geographic covered them in a documentary. Watch this clip to the get the basics.

The Snow Monkeys of Texas (National Geographic) from Harrison Witt on Vimeo.

One of our readers M. Odom snapped this photo of one of the monkeys on his deer lease near Dilley, TX so we had to share.

Have you ever seen a monkey in Texas? If so we would love to see the photos. Send to chester@kingdomzoo.com. If you would like to subscribe to this blog to keep up with these kinds of stories enter your email address in the form to the top right of this page.

Please take time to subscribe to our blog for the latest in unique wildlife stories like this one. The subscribe bar is near the top right of the page. You can also follow “The Wildlife Journalist” on Facebook.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Blue Deer

For years I have heard about strange whitetail deer that have a blue tint to their coats.

My father even reported seeing some of these deer on a hunting lease near San Saba, TX in the mid 1970s.

This of course was well before the era of cell phone cameras and game cameras so no photos were taken.

A reader sent in this photo of mysterious blue whitetails taken on his  game camera in an undisclosed location in the Pinewoods of East Texas.

Some parts look blue, others purple but this is not a an Adobe Photoshop rendering.

Have you seen any deer with unusual colors? If so e-mail wolf@wolfandlambmedia.com

We would love to see them.

America’s Outback

Australia’s Outback is one of the wildest and biologically diverse chunks of habitat left on the planet.

It is also a place that has tracts of ground that have felt no human footprints at least in the modern era.

American has its own outback.

It is the Trans-Pecos region of Texas-the far western region of the state.

trans_pecos

The Trans-Peco is part of the Chihuauan Desert and features several small mountain ranges and has a county (Brewster) that is larger than the entire state of Connecticut.

It is home to some of the rarest and most elusive reptiles in North America and is home to the largest black bear population in Texas. Scattered bears also roam the eastern third of the state.

This region in my opinion is the most likely place to discover new wildlife in the United States and is also very like to be home to a small population of jaguars.

Jaguars have been proven to be crossing into New Mexico and Arizona frequently due to a concerted game camera study in both states. No such study exists in Texas.

Unlike Arizona and New Mexico most of Trans-Pecos Texas is privately owned. That means any large-scale study would have to be given the green light by landowners there. That could happen and two years ago I spoke with a research group that focuses on the great cats and they expressed interest in the topic but so far nothing is happening.

The truth is unless landowners themselves make reports almost no news gets out of the region.

An interesting report I am investigating is of a Mexican gray wolf sighted in a remote area Alpine.

The person who gave me the report was a fur trapper with more than 50 years experience in killing coyotes for cattle and sheep operations. In other words, he knows the difference between coyote and wolves.

When I interviewed him the animal he described sounded strikingly like a Mexican gray wolf and was in an area far away from any major human population.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service the wild population of Mexican gray wolves in 2015 was 48 animals. It is not much a leap of faith to see one or more of these animals wandering into Texas.

wolf-radio-collar

In October 2000, a radio collared gray wolf from was shot and killed near Kirksville, MO nearly 600 miles away. A Mexican gray would not have to travel that far to end up near Alpine.

We will be forcing some effort on studies in this region and investigating the wildlife of America’s Outback.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Chased by Chupacabra

The dim moonlight illuminated the trees just enough to make out the edge of the forest. A strange sense of forebode overcame me as I gazed into the blackness.

As I neared a crossroads, something jumped out of the ditch and made its way through the tall grass. Standing about 20 inches at the shoulder, the creature had large, erect ears and pale, gray skin.
Perhaps, I had finally encountered the legendary “chupacabra”.

I have maintained the “chupacabras” seen on many video clips and photos shared on social media are coyotes or foxes with a very bad case of mange.

chupa 2
The mysterious canine enshrouded in the shadows. (Photo by Chester Moore, Jr.)

However, as I pulled over, grabbed my flashlight and ran to the woods edge, my rational explanation wasn’t resonating. I was alone, without a gun, on a dark, country road and looking for a “chupacabra”.

To top things off my flashlight was dying and so was my cell phone.

Sounds like a good start for a horror movie, doesn’t it?

As I pressed toward the woodline, a nasty growl came my direction. Followed by aggressive barks, I could tell there was a canine not happy with my presence. I inched a little closer and could make out a set of blue eyes illuminated by my dim flashlight. A creepy silhouette of a thin animal with tall ears peaking from a behind the tree looking at me, hit my curiosity factor so I moved closer.

At this point, the animal moved and started barking again. Aggressive barks.

It was time for me to go. I may be curious but I am not stupid.

I returned this morning slowly cruising alone the road as a thin layer of mist on the ground began to dissipate.

And about 50 yards from where I left it the night before was the mysterious animal. I quickly shot a few photos with my cell phone as it stood silhouetted in the forest. I could only make out the shape until it moved into an open patch of light.

I could see that it was a dog (mutt) of some sort with short hair that was coming off in large patches. It even had a tiny collar on.

If coyotes and foxes make up the bulk of “chupacabra” sightings, now the domestic dog can join the ranks.

“Chupacabras” are not monsters. They are simply sick animals and in this case I have feeling it was a sick animal dumped off in the woods so the owners would not have to deal with it. Either that or it escaped from somewhere and made a long haul to this stretch of road.

I doubt that though as it hung around the same spot I saw it last night. That’s a sign of an abandoned dog.

I knew what I was looking at was a canine of some sort all along but how many people would be able to tell during a brief sighting under the moonlight?

In this case the “chupacabra” was more like Frankenstein’s monster than some sort of evil being from beyond as some bloggers claim. It’s circumstance was at least partially man-made and it was just doing what it had to do to stay alive.

In this case I was the like the angry mob that drove the monster to the windmill, only with a flashlight instead of a torch. I did however back off and let nature take its course.

After all, Frankenstein’s monster fought back and I had no desire to end up bitten by a chupacabra-one wearing a collar or not.

Chester Moore, Jr.