Yesterday we announced that we created our own conservation outreach Higher Calling Wildlife. Everyone who joins for FREE gets this very special edition Higher Calling Wildlife “Wildlife Of Israel” e-mag.
It’s the first of its kind magazine focusing solely on Israel’s wildlife and we chose to debut it today as the Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets) begins this evening.
This is the New Year on the calendar God gave to the Hebrews and since supporting Israel’s wildlife is one of our pillars, we thought this would be a good way to celebrate and also a new beginning for us.
Higher Calling Wildlife founder and award-winning wildlife journalist got his first honors for wildlife conservation work when he was 19 years old.
The Sportsman’s Conservationists of Texas honored him with their “Youth Conservationist Of The Year” award and the following year he became the group’s first and only back to back winner when he won their prestigious “Conservation Communicator Of The Year”.
Since then he has been honored by Field & Stream magazine as a “Hero Of Conservation” and in 2020 was presented with the “Advocatus Magni” award from the National Wild Turkey Federation-Texas for his work with wild turkeys.
Moore who spends much of his time working with you who have critical illnesses, have experienced traumatic loss or are in the foster system has decided to start his own conservation outreach.
“We’re calling it Higher Calling Wildlife and it’s centered on forest and mountain wildlife and stream fisheries,” he said.
“It’s free to join and the concept is simple. By using investigative journalism we uncover issues with conservation in these particular fields of interest and empower you to use this information to raise awareness,” he said.
All blog subscribers will get the download option monthly. You can subscribe at the top right of this page or by , emailing email@example.com and putting “membership” in the subject line.
Members will get a bi-monthly e-magazine that is produced by Chester and young people in his Wild Wishes® program as well as special access to Moore and his team.
“Wild Wishes® grants wildlife encounters to children with a critical illness or loss of a parent or sibling. We’ve granted 110 of these so far and over the course of six years some of the kids as they’ve gotten older want to work in conservation so we are mentoring them. The first issue of Higher Calling has three of the articles as well as some artwork done by these young people. As we go along the goal is for me to do one piece per issue and them do the rest. We are not giving lip service to raising up young people. We are actually doing it,” Moore said.
Moore said one of the keys to this is Texas Fish & Game owner’s Roy and Ardia Neve’s desire to give back and help and willingness to support their kids’s outreach by distributing through fishgame.com and their e-newsletter.
“They have been amazing giving me space to push the envelope on conservation but also give me a chance to talk about some of the wishes we’ve granted and things we’ve been able to accomplish by God’s grace. And it has been amazing seeing that happen and then the young people wanting to get deeply into conservation. Working for the Neves and TF&G is an honor,” Moore said.
One of the young ladies, Reannah Hollaway shares her story in the first issue as the Texas Tech student got to participate in a desert bighorn capture at Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
Anyone who signs up this month gets an additional free e-mag special edition called The Wildlife Of Israel that gives a unique look into the abundant wildlife in the Holy Land.
“We’re small and grass roots,” said Reannah Hollaway.
“But we’re passionate and excited to do something unique for wildlife conservation.”
This summer has been a fun one here at Higher Calling as we have been on a three month long quest called “Summer of the Bear”.
The goal has been to raise awareness to bears and bear conservation around the world.
It started with reporting on greatly increased bear sightings in my home state of Texas and has seen us doing lots of giveaways including plush bears for kids and special edition Texas Bear Aware tokens.
This week ends our summer bear project and we’re doing it in a big way publishing this podcast I recorded with Jack Evans of Bear Trust International.
Listen to the show below as we talk about that organization’s great conservation education work.
Thanks to everyone who participated by sending emails, social media interaction, photos and videos.
The “Summer of the Bear” was a big success thanks to you.
“You see it on social media all the time, but I never thought it would happen to me. Someone shot and killed our horse last night in his pasture in Port Mansfield. If anyone has any leads please let us know. I am completely devastated R.I.P Seabiscuit.”
Those heartbreaking words showed up in my Facebook feed just a day after I started looking into mysterious horse killings in Texas, Florida and Louisiana.
I was able to interview the horse’s devastated owner Jessica Neu, who said the horse was shot in the chest, head on and no meat was taken.
“This was in a pasture right outside of Port Mansfield, TX. It’s the navigation district property where local kids can keep livestock and show animals..”
There is no known motive and as she noted in her post, these killings are showing up all over the place. If you have any information for Neu, contact her here.
The podcast also addresses three similar killings in the Liberty County area from 2017-2018.
The Pearland killings involved the harvest of meat. Like the death of Neu’s horse, the ones in Liberty were shot and left to die with no meat harvest.
These are both bizarre situations and ones that I believe deserve attention here as horses are such an important part of the lifestyle of outdoors lovers.
There is in my opinion two different situations happening regarding horse killings.
The Pearland killings along with a similar situation in central Florida most likely is tied to some sort of black market horse meat trade.
As my friend and fellow researcher Jeff Stewart noted in order to butcher a horse and load it up it would be like skinning and packing out a large bull elk.
One hind quarter would possibly weigh over 100 pounds. There’s a good chance this would take more than one person and the risk level of taking the horse, killing and taking the meat is far higher than a drive by shooting of sorts.
The second situation is what we will focus on here which is the killing of horses for seemingly no gain other than to kill the horse or perhaps terrorize the owners.
An Aug. 5 story at Spectrum News details a July killing of a little girls’ horse in Caldwell County, TX. where a horse was shot in the head and left to die. Caldwell County is a four hour drive straight up Highway 77 from Port Mansfield.
Two of the killings were the same little girls’ horse-one two days before Christmas in 2017 and the other in February 2018 after someone gave her a new horse. Another child’s horse was killed in the same area Nov. 2017.
Is there a pattern here?
We have just hit the tip of the iceberg and will cover more in future editions but here are a few similar reports from other states.
While conducting aerial surveys for desert bighorn sheep in West Texas on Saturday, Aug. 8, three Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees died in a helicopter crash on TPWD’s Black Gap Wildlife Management Area in Brewster County.
TPWD reported the victims include Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White, and State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar.
The pilot, a private contractor, survived the crash and was transported to El Paso for further treatment.
“No words can begin to express the depth of sadness we feel for the loss of our colleagues in this tragic accident,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director.
“These men were consummate professionals, deeply liked and highly regarded by their peers and partners alike for the immense passion, dedication, and expertise they brought to their important work in wildlife management and veterinary medicine. Wildlife conservation in Texas lost three of its finest as they so honorably and dutifully carried out their calling to help survey, monitor and protect the bighorns of their beloved west Texas mountains. We will miss Dewey, Brandon, and Dr. Bob deeply and dearly. All of us at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department send our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Stockbridge, White, and Dittmar families in the wake of this devastating tragedy and continue to pray for the health and recovery of the pilot.”
We are deeply saddened after hearing about the tragic and unexpected loss of Wildlife Biologist Dewey Stockbridge, State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar, and Fish and Wildlife Technician Brandon White on Saturday in the Brewster County helicopter accident. These three respected Texas Parks and Wildlife employees have dedicated their life to desert bighorn and wildlife conservation. Their commitment and expertise have given us the knowledge we need to succeed in restoring desert bighorn sheep in Texas. We will always be grateful to these men for their hard work and sacrifice, and we give our sincerest condolences to their families.
Make no mistake these three men were conservationists in the truest sense of the word. Wild sheep require a higher level of management than any other game species in North America and what they did for these great animals will help ensure viable populations in the future.
Of the three, I only briefly knew Stockbridge who was knowledgable, generous and passionate about the topic of sheep conservation and all wildlife management, especially at Elephant Mountain WMA which he oversaw.
Wild sheep are special animals and the people who work toward their conservation are special people. These men and women work in some of the most inhospitable environments in America and put in countless hours in extreme heat, extreme cold and at extreme elevations.
They are worthy of our respect and in this tragic case, worthy of memorial as an example of deeply committed conservationists.
Our prayers here at Higher Calling Wildlife are with their families, co-workers and the extended family of wildlife conservationists in the Trans-Pecos of Texas and beyond who were impacted by their dedication.
These men helped Texas’ rarest and most regal game animal, the desert bighorn sheep reclaim and sustain habitat lost during much of the 20th century.
Their death saddens us but the actions of their very dedicated lives should serve as inspiration.
Last Tuesday, me and my friends Todd and Annie Jurasek spent a full day exploring the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Co.
We had built up quite the hunger, so before heading back to the lodge, we went to a barbecue restaurant we enjoyed the day before.
But at 8:30 it was closed.
We decided to pick up some fast food on the way back, so I pulled out of the parking lot and drove off.
Less than 200 yards away, I looked to the left and couldn’t believe my eyes.
A large black bear was sitting on top of a rock about 75 yards away.
“That’s just a statue,” Todd said as I ran out of our SUV with my camera.
“Maybe so, but I have to see,” I replied.
As I focused my camera, I was not sure if I had missed some sort of elaborate statue all of the times I had previously passed by this spot or was looking at an actual bear.
After all, it was dark and it was only lit by street lights from down the road.
As I adjusted my camera settings, the bear moved it’s head and I knew I was looking at something special.
Todd and Annie quickly joined me and we were astonished this large bear was sort of chilling on a rock on the side of the road in the neighborhood. Todd has just prayed for us to have a bear encounter and the Lord responded quickly.
2020 is our “Summer of the Bear”.
He hung out for another minute or so and then lumbered off the rock into the darkness.
Interesting Colorado Parks & Wildlife Department (CPWD) officials made this post this post on Thursday.
Tuesday a bear was seen walking near downtown Estes midday, around 12:30pm. Local LE officers were able to haze the bear away from downtown and it went up a tree near the Birch Ruins.
Wildlife Officer Rylands arrived on scene to assess the situation and help make sure people were not approaching the bear. Rylands asked the bear if it could please remain up in the tree and take a nap until nightfall when there would be less people and cars moving about. Thankfully the bear heeded his request and made itself comfortable on the branch.
CPWD officials posted a photo of the bear in a tree and it’s hard to tell if it’s the same one we saw the same day.
Either way it shows bears on highly adaptable animals and will move into area of human habitations.
If you encounter bears in these settings or in the woods, be careful not to approach or spook them and never feed bears. Obey all bear safety guidelines in parks and respect the fact these beautiful animals are potentially dangerous.
Summer 2020 is the “Summer of the Bear” here at Higher Calling Wildlife and this encounter was a personal highlight for me.
There is nothing more majestic than a bighorn ram navigating its mountain domain where the air is thin and the scenery stunning.
As me and my wife Lisa photographed a gorgeous Rocky Mountain bighorn ram enjoying a natural mineral lick at 12,000 feet in Colorado, another ram appeared.
Popping its head up over what looked like a sheer cliff from our angle, the younger ram carefully made it’s away toward the lick, cautiously approaching the older and larger animal.
I thanked God for the moment because I knew it was He that put me and Lisa on this path.
Six months earlier the Holy Spirit whispered the words “Higher Calling” into my spirit and put me on a trajectory that led me on a path of deeper purpose and of elevated expectations.
As COVID-19 continues to shake the world and people debate everything from wearing masks to rioting, there is no doubt times are confusing.
In his letter to the church in Phillip, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
And that’s what seeing the great animals of the high country reminds me of-God, His Creation and divine purpose.
There was a reason these rams had a mineral lick in their alpine habitat and they instinctively knew they needed it.
When the universe was flung into Creation, those purposes were built into the Earth and the sheep and here we were witnessing it.
There is something pure about mountain air and special about the creatures that thrive in these environments.
Wild sheep don’t always live in the highest altitudes though. They will move down into valleys and fields to feed. And when they do, they are often in grave danger.
There has been a pandemic of sorts ongoing with wild sheep in North America since the 1800s when domestic sheep entered their landscape. Carrying bacterial pneumonia, they transfer it to their wild cousins and the results have been catastrophic.
From two million wild sheep on the continent when Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition to 25,000 or so in 1900 it was brutal.
Hunter-conservationists and concenred fish and game agencies stepped in and through translocation and careful management have brought numbers up to around 175,000 but the threat still exists. And wild sheep still die when the co-mingle with domestics.
Maybe there’a s lesson here for us.
Co-mingling with those infected can only bring trouble.
The coronavirus is one aspect but I am talking about all of the infection of the hateful, vicious fighting over issues that will only truly be settled when the Lord returns. I am talking about the abandonment of honor for fellow humans.
At 12,000 fee that day there were no political debates, election ads, controversies of social issues or division thereof.
It was just me, my wife, what ended up being three Rocky Mountain bighorn rams and a tangible sense of God’s presence.
If I had not heeded the words “Higher Calling”, we would not have experienced this and many things in my life would be different.
This blog would not even exist.
There is something to this whole “Higher Calling” thing and that is for each of us to discover and I believe those who purpose it in their hearts will do so in 2020.
And I am soon heading back to the mountains to do just that.
Author Michael Bond impacted several generations with his iconic “Paddington Bear” series.
Featuring a spectacled bear from South America, a species known little outside of its indigenous range, the books and animated features have done more to raise the profile of the species than anything.
They are the only South American bear species and are named for the light pattern on their face, neck and chest that in some individual resembles spectacles or eyeglasses.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Network, little is known about this elusive bear and while the mystery surrounding them may add to its mystique, it does little to further its conservation.
Lack of knowledge about these bears considerably compromises the conservation management for the species.
This rare, charismatic bear is highly endangered, primarily due to habitat fragmentation that has caused bears to lose access to critical feeding areas. Although this bear is generally found in humid, alpine cloud forests, Spectacled Bear Conservation (SBC) discovered a population of more than 65 bears in the low elevation dry forest, providing a unique opportunity to observe these bears in the wild.
SBC says spectacled bears are a vulnerable species seriously threatened by habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and human-wildlife conflict.
The lack of knowledge about spectacled bears in the wild impacts our ability to make conservation decisions or plans. Spectacled bears are the only bear species in South America with potentially as few as 2,500 mature individuals remaining.
I have reached out to some researchers to get some in-depth information on the species we will hopefully be able to post soon. Until then, enjoy this introduction to the beautiful, enigmatic and endangered spectacled bear.