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.
You never know what you’re going to see traveling through the Texas Hill Country at night.
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”.
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”.
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.
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.
Those are the ingredients necessary to allow wildlife to reach maximum size.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An enraged cacophony of 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
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.
The cash cow of the “green movement” and its singular focus on climate change has birthed a monster that is bilking billions from the public.
It is also directly taking funds that might otherwise do things that can be tangibly measured like purchase South America rainforest to save it from commercial ranching and link habitat corridors to establish safe travel ways for tigers in Asia.
Does anyone really think any of the money going toward “climate change” is making a difference or ever will?
Even if America were to acquiesce to even the strongest emissions standards do you really think China and other developing countries will?
When is the last time (other than two paragraphs ago) you heard anything about saving the rainforest?
It was the thing to save 25 years ago.
And it is even more endangered now as are its inhabitants but public interest waned and the corporate environmental saviors in various charities and governments around the world found something more lucrative: climate change.
Ironically the rainforest loss is linked to climate change but you can’t get poor countries in South America to pay billions for protecting forest. You can however syphon billions out of the western world for the grandiose idea of reducing carbon emissions.
Remember-it’s all about the money.
We are allowing animals like all subspecies of tigers, all varieties of rhinoceros, the vaquita porpoise and a host of other highly vulnerable animals to slip into extinction with little or no mainstream interest in funding their protection.
And if the so-called “green movement” people who constantly say they care about wildlife and the environment had been watching these situations more closely species like the vaquita would not be down to 30 specimens. Their problem is poaching and if someone had jumped on the issue 20 years ago things would be radically different.
But that was about the time focus shifted from the rainforest to “global warming” which has now morphed into “climate change”.
That way if they find out temperatures are actually decreasing in areas they can save face. “Climate change” gives them a lot of leeway.
I have nothing against trying to reduce carbon emissions. It needs to happen across the board.
I do have a problem with some of the rarest animals, plants and habitats disappearing when just a fraction of the funds fattening the pockets of the climate change hierarchy would make a radical difference in their survival.
Stop being naive.
We will not make a dent in actual carbon emissions but many of you will have a dent in your pocketbook because you believed the sales pitch of people with agendas other than true conservation.
I highly advise investing in small conservation projects that are directly saving habitat from destruction, aiding anti-poaching crusades and funding research that could save endangered species.
Aim small, miss small is a key tenet of shooting.
It’s also a good way to think about efforts to save the planet’s rarest animals and habitats.
My radio program “Moore Outdoors” allows me to be able to interview all kinds of experts on wildlife.
By far one of the greatest interview subject is Marty Stouffer of “Wild America” fame.
The now syndicated show (last 25 years) originally aired on PBS and set records for viewership. Here’s some info on Stouffer from Wikipedia.
Along with his brother Mark, Stouffer also produced the TV series of John Denver specials for ABC in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Another half-dozen one-hour Specials for the National Geographic Society were also produced during that same time period. Stouffer’s special “The Predators” was narrated by Robert Redford and his special “The Man Who Loved Bears” was narrated by Will Geer and Henry Fonda.
By the mid-1970s, Stouffer had compiled several full-length specials that aired on television as prime time network documentaries. At that time, he approached the programming managers at the PBS about a half-hour-long wildlife series. PBS signed for the rights to broadcast Stouffer’s series Wild America in 1981. The series almost immediately became one of the most popular aired by PBS, renowned for its unflinching portrayal of nature, as well as its extensive use of unique film techniques such as extreme slow motion, close-ups and time-lapses through the seasons of the year.
Stouffer’s stories, incorporating dramatic “facts of life,” and told simply in his home-spun style, won the hearts of a loyal audience. It was one of PBS’s most highly rated regular series, never leaving the Top Ten, and in more than one year, it was the Number One highest rated regular series to air on the network.
It remains the most-broadcast Series which has ever aired on Public Television. At the time, it was common for producers to limit the number of broadcasts to 4 airings over a period of 3 years. Stouffer saw no good reason for that limitation and he was the first producer to offer unlimited broadcasts of the series by the network. Many of the 260 PBS stations chose to broadcast the programs multiple times each day throughout the weeks. In some weeks, according to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed by more than 450 million viewers.
In total, the Wild America episodes have been viewed untold billions of times by hundreds of millions of viewers. Wild America has become the strongest, most popular and most recognized brand in existence on the subject of North American wildlife and nature.
Listen here to our discussion bears, wildlife programing and all things “Wild America”.
I could almost hear “Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma” echoing in the forest.
Excitement at the opportunity to be in the woods alone, early in the morning in a remote tract had now turned to…well…fright.
Just ahead of me on a lonely creek bottom was a structure cobbled together with boards, pipes and tarps. It looked eerily familiar to the home of slasher Jason Voorhees on Friday the 13th Pt. 2.
I was not just in the woods but the super deep woods about as far from people as you can get in the eastern third of Texas.
Had I stumbled upon the living quarters of some killer hidden out here? There are instances of people in this region living off the land and never coming out in the region so maybe it was just a hermit.
The more likely answer is this was someone’s meth lab-something I have always hoped I would never find.
I did not stick around to investigate.
I was considering turning in what I found but a few days later it became a moot point.
Hurricane Harvey’s epic rains hit Southeast Texas and the nearest homes to the location had 6-8 feet of water in them. This spot would’ve been deeper than that so if Jason did live in there, he had to make a new home.
I haven’t returned to ask him how it turned out.
Chad Meadows encountered something similar when he was a young teen.
“One day me and my cousin got bored so,we grabbed the machete and our bb guns and went off exploring,” he said.
“This was on a levee in Deweyville, TX. We went down by the river and came across some trees that were clearly cut down with an axe and formed into a 10×10 half walled fort. We found the jackpot or so we thought.”
“During our firefight with the enemy, we saw another fort a couple hundred feet away, but covered in a dingy white canvas tarp. We needed a fallback position so we checked out this new, smaller fort. We thought we had stumbled on a hunter’s camp. The second place had a bunch of barrels and pots and copper tubing. We didn’t know what it was but it was hidden so we decided to get out of there,” Meadows said.
So, off the duo went.
When they got a few feet away a “wildman” with what he described as a ZZ Top beard came running and yelling and waving a shotgun.
“We took off. I remember him firing the gun and I could hear the pellets peppering the trees around us. We weren’t hit but we were scared. We didn’t tell our parents because my uncle would have gone after the man. A few days later, their dog came up missing, only to be found dead just in the woods near where we set off on our adventure,” Meadow said.
The moral of the story? If you find rickety structures in the woods get out. Quickly.
Chance are its someone hiding out or hiding something in the remoteness of the forest.
However my imagination and the amount of times I viewed the second Friday the 13th as a kid won’t rule out a slasher with a white sack over his head.
Plus there is the time I was driving down a remote road not too far from this location and saw a guy in overalls rocking on a porch with a sack over his head. When I came back through a couple of hours later he was still there.
I hope I never encounter him in the woods.
I know Jason is a fictional character but this guys outfit was too close of a match to the iconic movie slasher for my comfort and this was in July, not on Halloween.
The 1981 cult classic Southern Comfort details a group of National Guardsmen led by Powers Boothe who come across Cajuns in the vast Atchafala Basin swamp that don’t take too kindly to outsiders.
When Southeast Texas outdoors lover Todd Haney was 15 years old he encountered something similar along the lonesome Sabine River corridor.
“My encounter was something that could have come right out of that movie,” Haney said.
“I had put a trotline out in the backwaters on the Louisiana side of the Sabine. I was around 15 years old. After a few weeks the river started to drop out so I went to take the line up and move out to the river. The line was about a mile from the river through a narrow channel.”
“When I got about 3/4 of the way in, I noticed a camp on a ridge consisting of a tent and some typical camping supplies, but no one in sight. I didn’t think much of it other than it’s a remote area only accessible by boat. When I came out of the channel into a larger backwater cypress swamp where the line was, I saw a boat pulled up to the bank about a hundred yards to the right. Still not very concerned because I was just going to be in there a few minutes, just long enough to take up the line I preceded to take up the line.”
That’s when things got scary.
“I got about half of the hooks off the line when I heard the sound of a person walking in the leaves on the bank in front of me. And with a heavy Cajun accent, speaks.
“What are you doing back here?”
Haney was alone with his pit bull terrier Babe who went everywhere with him and a Marlin .22.
“I’m taking this line up that I put here about two weeks ago,” Haney replied.
The man with the Cajun accent had a different idea.
That’s my line. You better the the (fill in the blank) out of here or I am going to blow that (fill in the blank again) boat out from under you.”
He could see the man about 50 yards away and he was holding what looked like a shotgun in his hands.
“I said ‘OK’ but reached down and grabbed my knife and cut the line in two door spite,” Haney said.
“As I eased out of the cypress swamp I saw another man now standing near the boat that I saw earlier. Thinking back, those were direct threats to my life in the exchange of words. It’s been 34 years ago now, and I can’t remember exactly what all was said but I knew they weren’t joking.”
Turns out a pair of brothers from nearby had shot someone a few years earlier and in hindsight Haney thinks he encountered them.
“I had just watched Southern Comfort a year earlier. I never thought I would live it.”
People often ask me what I think is the biggest threat in the woods.
And they are shocked when I don’t answer bear, mountain lion, rattlesnake or wild boar.
My answer is always the same: humans.
There is no greater danger on the planet than the human being and for several reasons I will discuss, they are by far the greatest threat in the woods.
I am not one of these anti-human wildlife lovers.
I love wildlife but I love people too, in fact even more than wildlife.
Me and my wife Lisa work with children who are abused, terminally ill and suffering loss. We love those children dearly but a great part of why we have so many children to work with is because of the dark side of humanity.
The same evil that would guide someone to harm a child will influence someone to kill, rape or maim in the desolate setting of the forest.
Isolation has always been a playing ground for the wicked.
Evil people like to do their deeds under the cover of darkness, in the shadows and sometimes in the woods.
This is why I never enter the woods unarmed. Never.
You see as a journalist I have been privy to numerous stories of danger, death and chaos in the woods through talking with game wardens, hunters, hikers, fishermen and rural ranchers and farmers.
Strange and dark things sometimes happen out there and this series is designed to raise awareness so that you will be more prepared on your next wilderness excursion.
I used to set game cameras in an isolated high spot in a tract of marsh that was just past the city limits but that people rarely visited.
One day I am making my way back toward the vehicle and I hear gunfire.
Then it comes again and again and again.
As I sneak onto a high spot to get a glimpse I see about a dozen young men gathered near my truck and a couple of them are shooting pistols into the air. They are all drinking and there are several motorcycles and a couple of cars.
I started to wait them out but I figured the drunker they got the more dangerous the situation might become.
I also recognized this was very likely a gang situation because several of them had on the same vest and I better handle myself right or I might not make it out of here. Darkness was closing in.
I waited until they sort of backed away from my truck and walked straight in. I waved as I came up and they just looked at me.
Several spoke words in Spanish I didn’t understand but the tone wasn’t exactly friendly. One of them approached me and spoke in English and asked what I was doing.
I told him I was getting my truck and going home. He stood and looked at me for a second. Neither one of us blinked.
I then opened the door of my truck, laid the .45 I had in my jacket on the seat and backed out of there.
As I left the gunfire started again.
I thanked God it was shooting in the air and not at me.
A couple of weeks later the police shut off access to this area due to a bunch of crimes occurring including someone fishing nearby getting shot.
That’s just one crazy encounter I have had in the wild.
We are about to take a trip into dark territory. Please share these blogs on your social media and with friends.
It’s important we are aware, alert and focused when we enter the woods. There are dangers out there and most of them walk on two legs.
Chester Moore, Jr.
Cutting-edge wildlife writings and investigations.