Tag Archives: chester moore

Is Common Blacktip Shark 4th Most Likely To Attack?

Blacktip Shark

The common blacktip shark is never listed in Internet and television lists of the most dangerous sharks.

Yet if you look at the raw numbers from the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), you will see they should be.

While blacktips were only positively identified in one unprovoked fatality they were responsible for 29 total attacks.

That puts only the great white, tiger and bull-the three species everyone recognizes as potentially dangerous above them. We wrote about this last year here but have some new insight.

The blacktip shark can easily be confused with other species. (Photo courtesy NOAA)

ISAF has a category for requiem and lamniforems-attacks linked to thosebranches but not to exact species and those are both higher than the blacktip. But when it comes to identified sharks biting people blacktips rank fourth.

Period.

This is not to implicate the blacktip as a creature to be feared. It is however to question some of the shark attacks identified as bull and to  lesser extent spinner sharks (which have 16 attacks attribute to them.)

Spinner sharks are nearly identical to blacktips and bull sharks and big blacktips can appear similar especially in murky water.

The identification issue is noted by ISAF.

 This list must be used with caution because attacks involving easily identified species, such as white, tiger, sandtiger, hammerhead and nurse sharks, nearly always identify the attacking species, while cases involving difficult to identify species, such as requiem sharks of the genus Carcharhinus, seldom correctly identify the attacker.

Blacktips are the most common large shark to be found in the Gulf of Mexico. They are highly abundant along many beaches and probably come into contact with people more than any other large shark.

The author in 1999 with a blacktip shark he was about to tag with Mote Marine biologist John Tyminski.

While the bull shark is common and sort of jacked up on testosterone, blacktips are even more abundant and frequently prey on schools of mullet, menhaden, pompano and other fish on the beachfront.

In my opinion some of the “bull shark” attacks on fishermen in particular are probably blacktips. Wade fishermen routinely carry belts with fish stringers and I have personally witnessed numerous blacktips hitting stringers. I have seen bulls circle anglers and have heard of one attacking a stringer but blacktips are far more often the culprit here.

Bulls have a bad reputation so they might be getting a little more blame on some of the attacks that do not involve fatalities and outright brutal attacks.

An interesting note from ISAF is that blacktips have been known to attack surfers in Florida.

Is it possible they are experiencing the same kind of phenomenon great whites do in seal-rich waters of the Pacific but instead of pinnipeds they relate it to the silhouette of sea turtles?

Blacktip sharks are amazing creatures that have the respect of anglers due to their incredible acrobatics when hooked. Most anglers catch-and-release them these days respecting their role in the ecosystem.

Perhaps with this knowledge they might respect them a little more-and be a little more cautious when toting around a stringer of speckled trout or pompano in the surf.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

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.

Wild Wish Awakens Conservation Calling

Sea turtles have always been her favorite animal.

Their life in the ocean, beauty and even their awkwardness put them at the top of the animal kingdom for high school senior Reannah.

So when Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® founder Chester Moore overheard a conversation at Texas Children’s Hospital about this young lady wanting to meet a sea turtle, he went into action.

One of the organization’s outreaches is called Wild Wishes and it grants exotic animal encounters to children with critical illness or loss of parent or sibling. In the past, Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX had granted penguin encounters to children in the program.

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Reannah is all smiles after meeting a giant river otter.

He knew they had a Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle named “Chloe” so he contacted the facility to see what was possible.

On April 29, Reannah got to meet this special turtle in a behind the scenes setting, almost getting to hand it food via a special device. Chloe was a tad too shy for that but swam up and gave Reannah a close look that put a Texas-sized smile on her face.

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Chloe the Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle.

She also got to do an encounter with giant river otters which included feeding the endangered mustelids rainbow trout and posing for a kiss photo. On top of that she got to go to go behind the scenes at the Caribbean aquarium and feed the fish.

The smiles got even bigger as Reannah realized she was not only feeding tarpon, Atlantic spadefish and jack crevalle but also sharks.

“This is awesome!,” she said.

“I can’t thank Moody Gardens enough for rolling out the red carpet for a very sweet and caring young girl. Everyone from the PR department to the animal care crew were gracious and gave not only their time but love. I’ll never forget that,” Moore said.

And he will never forget Reannah’s desire to meet sea turtles.

“The Lord had really been working on me about getting deeper into wildlife conservation with our program. I have been involved with endangered wildlife my entire professional life at many levels but not until we met this young lady did I put the dots together how Wild Wishes would connect to conservation.”

Each young person coming through the program will have an opportunity to choose from a list of endangered species they would like to help. Moore and his team have vetted numerous organizations who work with them and they will make a small donation in the child’s name to that cause.

“A few months ago I was speaking with legendary marine artist and conservationist Dr. Guy Harvey and he said that if everyone would just do a little, then a lot would be accomplished. With that said, I find it amazing that Reannah wanted to help the ocean and we will be making a small donation in her name to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation,” Moore said.

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Moore will be making a personal donation in Reannah’s name to giant river otter conservation in support of a group called Save the Giants he and his crew learned about at Moody Gardens.

Who better to help wildlife facing immense challenges than children facing challenges themselves?

“I can’t tell you how impactful learning of Reannah’s desire to meet a sea turtle was and then meeting her and seeing how much she really does care about animals and the ocean. Moving forward many endangered animals will be helped because this young lady wanted to get close to sea turtles. She inspired us,” Moore said.

Not only will children in the program on top of their wish encounter get a donation to an endangered species cause in their name but they will also have an opportunity to be part of a special mentoring program.

“The young people who come through Wild Wishes will have a chance to become our conservation ambassadors,” Moore said.

That means they will have the chance to get hands-on training with animal ambassadors from Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center®, learn wildlife photography, go through an endangered species information course and appear at events with animals to help raise awareness to endangered species conservation.

“As far as we know this has never been done. We’re very excited and inspired. We love the Lord, children and wildlife and this is a way to bring it altogether,” said Lisa Moore who will be working heavily on the photography part of the mentoring program.

Reannah’s encounter was the 60th wish the program has granted and while doing a Bible  study recently, Moore noticed something unique about the number 60.

Moore said Hebrew numbers have meanings beyond their numerical value and the meaning for 60 in that ancient language is “to support”.

“We will not only continue supporting children facing challenges through Wild Wishes but also help those children support endangered wildlife. I think it’s a match made in Heaven.”

To donate to make Wild Wishes come true or learn how to enroll a child in the program click here.

Poaching of Asian Elephants Rising-Now They’re Killing Moms and Babies

Asian Elephants

A research project  operated by Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Clemson University scientists is showing shocking and increasing poaching of Asian elephants in one of their last strongholds.

Myanmar is one of the most forested countries in Asia and has the second largest population with around 5,000 animals.

In the video below you will see that poachers in that country are not killing them chiefly for ivory but for their skin. And that means they are killing males, females and babies. One of the quickest ways to deplete a population of anything is to kill breeding-aged females which makes this skin trade particularly deadly.

Hopefully this will get major mainstream news attention. Kudos to Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Clemson University for their discovery and exposure of this terrifying new trend.

With that said I doubt the big players in the wildlife conservation world will take notice and do much if anything. This is why I most often support small, focused conservation groups.

African elephants have been at the forefront of international wildlife conservation efforts for the last 30 years. When ivory poaching was brought to the public’s consciousness in the mid 1980s, the world was rightly appalled and millions of dollars have went toward their cause.

Currently there are an estimated 400,000 African elephants throughout the continent. That’s a huge drop from at least two million in the 1940s but it is large in comparison to the Asian elephant with a best estimate standing at around 35,000 animals scattered throughout Asia. Think about that.

There are less 1/10 Asian elephants in comparison to African.

Why is little said about Asian elephants?

For starters, big conservation is big bureaucracy and the public’s fascination with the African elephant helps generate funding. Lots of it. The largest threat to Asia’s elephant has been habitat loss with poaching also a factor but showing elephant carcasses stripped of tusks raises funds.

Showing palm oil plantations and villages taking up space for Asian elephants not so much.

People have a fascination with African game and there is always a greater interest there from the public than issues in other parts of the world.

I am all for helping African elephants but shouldn’t a bigger focus be on Asian elephant populations which stand at 1/10 of that in Africa?

According to the Great Elephant Census  Tanzania alone has nearly four times the elephants than all of Asia does with 131,626.

If those who deal in international conservation want a new project to really sink their teeth into this one could be a game changer. It’s not too late to make a difference but if the elephant skin trade catches on throughout Asia it will not take long to decimate their numbers either.

If ivory-stripped bull elephants images raise funds, then cows and their babies stripped of their skin should do the same thing. Send down a film crew and get to work. The Asian elephants in Myanmar need help. Quickly.

For the first 10 people to email chester@kingdomzoo.com and say you shared this blog I will donate $10 to Elafantasia. I know $100 is not much but if we all could contribute a little this group could do a lot. This is one of those smaller groups I mentioned that is focused and doing great work.

Share away and message me.

Together we can raise awareness and generate funds to help Asian elephants.

Chester Moore, Jr. 

 

Running Wild with Austin Stevens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And adventures abound in Running Wild.

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

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

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

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

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

It is a must read.

To order your copy click here.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

Watch Coral Snake Eat Copperhead (Video)

Coral Snake

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

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

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

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

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

Chester Moore, Jr.

(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.

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.