Tag Archives: chester moore

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.

Siberian Tiger Babies Observed-Species Needs PR Overhaul

There is no animal more stunning than an Amur or Siberian tiger.

Weighing up 600 pounds and measuring as long as 12 feet from nose to tip of tail, their size almost overrides the beauty of a striking pattern and piercing eyes.

According to an article at atimes.com Russian scientists using trail cameras have captured images of three and a half month old cubs showing there is hope for this highly endangered species.

Watch the video above to see the incredible images.

According to officials with the World Wildlife Fund there are around 500 of these majestic cats left in the wild and that is up from the nearly extinct level of the 1940s.

By the 1940s, hunting had driven the Amur tiger to the brink of extinction—with no more than 40 individuals remaining in the wild. The subspecies was saved when Russia became the first country in the world to grant the tiger full protection.

I will never forget standing next to a Siberian tiger for the first time. When I first worked with captive cats at a sanctuary during my college days, I was absolutely blown away with the size of these animals.

I was shocked that their size and rarity was not a key point in virtually any conservation programs I had heard of at the time.

They are after all the world’s largest cat, weighing up to 200 pounds more than Africa’s largest lion.

Yet, few in the mainstream know anything about them. In fact, during the dozens of lectures I have conducted on the world’s great cats, I have come to believe most people outside of the hardcore wildlife lovers believe the white tigers they see in zoos are Siberian tigers.

Those are of course white Bengal tigers and the white color has nothing to do with living in snow. That is however the correlation people often make.

White tigers are not Amur (Siberian tigers). They are in fact Bengal tigers. (Public Domain Photo)

Education is a vital key to conservation because it makes people aware of problems with wildlife and its habitat. The Siberian tiger definitely needs an overhaul in that department.

Who wouldn’t want to help the world’s largest cat survive? What great opportunity lies ahead if someone is willing to make a concerted effort to let the world know about this great cat that survives in one of the harshest environments in the world?

When I saw the images of the gorgeous cubs in the video above, I could not help but feel a warm sense of hope.

If we let the world know what is happening with tigers in the Russian Far East then we might just have a crack at long-term survival for the world’s largest cat which was almost wiped out of existence 80 years ago.

With all of the doom and gloom constantly being bantered about in the wildlife community that is something to celebrate.

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

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. 

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.

Monster Hogs Will Become Apex City Predators

Genetics. Age. Food/Cover.  Those are the ingredients necessary to create maximum size feral hogs or any other wildlife for that matter.

Without the genetic code animals don’t have the capacity for super size. Without food and cover it is impossible to feed their potential. And without reaching the optimal age, it is all a moot point.

These three factors are the reason why gigantic feral hogs will become the apex predator in many American cities.

Feral hogs have entered the city limits of many cities in the American South and are becoming major problems for animal control, homeowners, golf course managers and park superintendents.

There are no doubt hogs in cities like Houston, Orlando and others major cities right now with the potential to outgrow the average grizzly bear.

Greenbelts as well as abandoned lots, dumps and other open areas provide adequate nutrition.

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Domestic hogs left free to graze integrate with feral hogs and can produce monstrous offspring.

And then there is the age factor.

Once hogs enter cities there is virtually no way to control them.

Trapping has very limited effectiveness. Shooting them under virtually every circumstance is off limits for obvious reasons. No one will have the stomach to allow hunters with trained curs and pit bulls to capture/kill them and poisoning (where legal) is not going to be possible due to dangers to pets and people.

So, when that hog with the genes to be a giant enters a city, it has everything else it needs to do just that.

These hogs will do massive damage to everything they put their snout to and will pose a danger to people and their pets. Hogs are most fond of plant material but they can and often do prey on live animals.

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Photo submitted by Tyler Clines. Will cities allow effective means of capturing hogs like using trained dogs? The answer is most likely “no”.

That means “Fifi” the poodle could be on the menu when her doting mother takes her for a walk in the park.

Such hogs already exist and have for years but as hogs numbers continue to skyrocket even the urban areas in the feral hog’s range that have had no swine migration will see them move in.

Early in my writing career I got some revealing intel on such animals. The first was almost a face to snout encounter.

When taking my girlfriend (now wife) Lisa out on a date at a seafood restaurant we heard something step out of the cane just behind us in the parking lot.

As we fixed our eyes toward the racket a huge mud-covered animal emerged.

At first in the dim light at the back end of the parking lot I thought it was a young steer as cattle are common in any pasture, wood lot or in the case chunk of marsh next to the restaurant.

But it was no steer.

This was a hog, one that weighed well beyond 500 pounds.

It grunted heavily when it saw us (we were only 10 steps away) and then went on about its business of rooting up the ground.

The area the animal came from is a piece of marsh probably in the 300 acre range next to a large refinery facility. This is bordered by a large chip channel and a whole bunch of industrial buildings and homes.

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Hogs weighing 400 pounds are not uncommon and those weighing more than the average grizzly do exist. These type of animals will likely being showing up in cities.

Obviously that huge hog, perhaps a domestic set free to graze years ago as used to be common in Texas had found its nice. It does not take hogs much time to go back to their wild origins and integrate into purely feral populations.

This was not the only time I came across evidence of monster hogs in the area.

Around the same time, a man told me had located a really big black boar in a wood lot behind the Vidor, TX Wal Mart and wanted to know if I wanted to tag along with he and his dogs to catch it.

I declined.

Two weeks later a letter arrives in the mail with a photo of the hog they killed, all 400 pounds of it. I later drove by the area to inspect and saw the 20 acre wood lot the beast had lived in amongst a city of 10,000.

As hogs push deeper into urban territory, certain individuals will find these sanctuary areas that will allow them to grow to epic proportions.

It will be important to educate the public on these animals with a very special emphasis on not feeding them. Feral hogs are bad enough but feral hogs without any hunting pressure who know humans feed them will eventually turn to animals that approach people.

And at some point someone will get hurt, maybe killed.

I have written extensively on hog attacks and they are more common than many might suspect.

Having been chased up a tree on two occasions by wild hogs both in Texas and Tennessee, I can attest being on the side of their wrath is a frightening thing.

We should always use caution when hogs are around and realize some of them tend to be more Hannibal Lecter than Porky the Pig.

(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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

The dream began long ago…

A couple of days ago I came across a project called “I am Somebody” from fourth grade.

It was an exercise in challenging us to state who we are and who we wanted to become in life.

I don’t remember this project and I have not seen it since I did it back in 1984 but what I found in it reminded me that a dream of working with wildlife that became a vision later in life started long ago.

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When asked to draw a picture or cut out and paste of picture of what I wanted to be when I grew up I chosen article from National Geographic showing a researcher with a leopard seal.

I would like to be a scientist because I would like to maybe find a way to stop water pollution or discover a new animal. I would like to be a wildlife biologist.

I ended up studying journalist in school and later zoology and have since I was in high school pursued wildlife journalism. It’s amazing a little boy with a big dream got to live it in a little different way.

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The assignment also had a section called “If I Were…”

If I were an animal I would like to be a grizzly bear so I could be the strongest animal in the forest.

Not much has changed on that front although I would probably tell you a jaguar for the answer now-the strongest cat in the forest.

The reason for this post is to inspire you to follow the vision you have for your life. My advice is to seek God, receive revelation on your life and pursue that with everything you have.

I am no one special but I have been able to do many special things in regards to wildlife. There is no reason you can’t do the same thing.

I plan on doing many more special things with wildlife in the next 25 years and beyond and want to inspire you to seek out your WILDEST dreams.

I will probably never become a grizzly but I just might get an up close and personal photo one of one of these magnificent creatures.

Yeah, that sounds fun…

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

A bear named Gigi

It was called Tiger Bar and Grill.

Besides the booze, the draw was a pair of Bengal tigers sitting on a small slab across from the bar.

It is hard to imagine that at some point, this was considered a good idea but it had been open for several years and by the amount of bottles in the trash can outside, they had a few patrons.

Our mission was to rescue a young black bear illegally imported into Texas and being kept in the bar.

The author at age 21 with his cousin Frank Moore giving “Gigi” her last Twinkie of the night. (Photo by Gerald Burleigh)

A game warden had contacted Monique Woodard of the Exotic Cat & Wildlife Refuge in Kirbyville, TX to see if she would take the bear and she got my frequent cohort and wildlife photographer Gerald Burleigh and I to come along.

My job was to dart the bear if it got belligerent so we could put it in the crate to ride to Kirbyville in the back of my truck. Gerald was thereto document the day with his unique style of photography.

The tigers despite being in a small area looked healthy but the bear on the other hand was quite scruffy. Weighing about 80 pounds, she was probably around six months old and despite her small size she could have taken out all of us. Bears are extremely powerful.

We walked up to the enclosure and the bear stood up on its hind legs.

Before risking darting the animal, we put the extra large pet porter next to the door of the cage and Monique reached into her bag and pulled out a Twinkie.

Gigi getting a drink in her new enclosure (Photo by Gerald Burleigh)

She held it up to the nose of the bear which at this point was standing at the door and she had me open it. She then threw the Twinkie into the porter and the bear went right in.

Easy enough.

On the way home, somewhere around Baytown on Interstate 10, the bear which at this point had been named “Gigi” pounded on the bed of my truck.

We pulled over to see what was wrong and Monique said she was hungry so she gave her a few more Twinkies from the box.

This happened three more times before getting to Kirbyville where she had the very last Twinkie in her big new enclosure.

Gigi was a real treat and ended up being a big draw to the refuge and a gigantic blessing to our lives.

Chester Moore, Jr.