A Deep Look At The Teen Poaching Crisis

Dolphins are one of America’s most beloved animals.

From “Flipper” thrilling families on television in the 1960s to modern-day dolphin encounters at aquariums and resorts, the love affair families have with dolphins is a strong one.

So, when game wardens in Orange County, TX, found a dead dolphin impaled by a fishing arrow, it sent shockwaves across national media outlets.

A couple of days after the incident, I spoke with the warden on the case. He revealed the type of fishing broadhead used in the incident was only sold at one location in the region, a popular archery shop.

“That has narrowed down our search. We’ll find out who did this,” he said.

Officials did not expect that the perpetrators were two teenage brothers who, while bowfishing, came across a young dolphin that had wandered into freshwater.

So instead of enjoying seeing the beautiful, protected marine mammal and reporting it was in an unusual area, they killed it.

This happened a few miles from my home in 2015 and opened my eyes to a problem few in our industry have discussed.

In my opinion, America has a teen poaching crisis, and we need to address it now.

Killing Cranes and Eagles

Federal officials charged a teen from Jefferson County just 30 miles away for killing two whooping cranes less than a year after the dolphin incident.

A judge ordered the 19-year-old to pay $26,000 in restitution, barred him from owning or possessing firearms or ammunition, and prohibited him from hunting or fishing in the U.S.

He also got 200 hours of community service.

Shortly after this made headlines, I asked a Galveston County game warden if she had noticed any trends in-game and fish violations among teenagers.

The answer blew me away.

“Yes, they need to stop killing our eagles.”

Take, for example, a 17-year-old Harris County, TX boy who shot a bald eagle near White Oak Bayou. It was one of a pair that actively nested in the area for several years.

The most heinous instance came from the Pacific Northwest.

Washington Fish and Wildlife wardens said a sheriff’s department officer found evidence of teens purposely hunting for and poaching eagles.

“Officer Bolton and the deputy searched the area for downed wildlife and soon discovered a relatively fresh doe deer on the hillside near where the suspects had parked. Four older deer carcasses in various stages of decomposition were found in the same location. The officers learned that one of the young men shot the doe the night before by using a high-powered spotlight,” police wrote in a Facebook post.

“The animal was then placed near the other carcasses to bait in and shoot eagles.”

That’s not an incident of an impulsive act of game law violations.

That’s a calculated effort that involves multiple poaching incidents to purposely kill eagles, most likely for the black-market trade in their claws and feathers.

Over the last five years, numerous other incidents involving teens killing eagles have occurred around the country.

Deer Smuggling and Massacres

Florida officials in 2017 charged an 18-year-old and a 23-year-old with capturing, harassing, and harming three endangered Key deer, the smallest subspecies of whitetail.

According to a report at Local10.com, the 18-year-old said he lured three of them in with food, restrained them, and put them in the car “in a plan to take pictures with them.”

Conservation officers euthanized the three deer due to broken bones.

An article at gohunt.com details two high school-aged males guilty of poaching ten mule deer in McCone County, Montana in 2018.

“According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP), the deer were killed with “a shotgun using loads typically used for pheasants.”

All of the deer were on a two-mile stretch near road 528 in northern McCone County.”

Not to be outdone, four Pennsylvania teenagers in 2020 went on a whitetail poaching spree that one wildlife officer called one of the most disturbing incidents he has observed.

Two 17-year-olds and one boy aged 16 killed at least 30 deer by spotlighting with a headlamp or their car lights, exiting the vehicle in the deer-rich area, and opening fire. Officials said they probably wounded many more deer than could not be accounted for in the area.

“It was almost like a video game for them. They did it because they were bored,” said Clint Deniker, a wildlife conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, told the Sharon Herald.

“There is no telling how many deer were killed or wounded,” Deniker said, adding he accounted for at least 30.

Another 2020 incident, this time in Wisconsin, involved multiple teens over the course of a month, killing 40 whitetails and one horse. All of them were left to rot.

And there are numerous other incidents involving dozens of deer and other game killed in similar sprees by teens all around the nation.

What Is Going On?

This is not an indictment of teens.

It is not one of those rants we often hear in our culture like, “The kids these days are rotten.”

I dedicate much of my life to working with teens. I believe in them and think there are things about the current crop of teens that shows incredible promise for our future.

But this teen poaching thing has to be addressed.

And it has to start with an admission.

Most, if not all, of these teens, came from hunting families. While we as hunters rightfully denote that poaching and hunting are radically different practices, these kids are familiar with game firearms and in several instances, were engaged in legal hunting activities when an opportunity to poach came along.

That means somewhere down the line, we have to as a hunting community talk about this issue and find ways to engage it with them directly.

But we need to ask some questions first.

How much does parental influence play into this? There is no question some of these cases involve a long family line of game law violators.

A 2019 case from Alaska is a prime example as a father and his 17-year-old son killed a mother black bear and her two babies in a den.

What they didn’t realize was that the bear had a GPS collar and remote camera researchers were using to monitor their hibernation habits, so they got busted in short order.

A father who has raised his son or daughter to go to the level of killing baby bears in a den shows authority figures can play a significant role in influencing teen poaching, even at the most insidious level.

The following are other factors that need to be examined.

Social Media Notoriety: In our culture, some of the most famous people are now not those who have actually accomplished anything but those who have broken laws or done other immoral things and published them on social media.

Is there a link here between social media celebrity and teen poaching?

Texas officials solved a 2020 Texas case because the teen that poached a deer that was well-known in an off-limits to hunting community pasture bragged about it on Facebook. Officials believe the Pennsylvania teen deer massacre was communicated behind the scenes through Snapchat.

The Power of Suggestion: Unfortunately, social media and traditional outdoor media outlets have been a place for dark sentiment regarding wildlife. While we can agree that much of the “green” movement has little to do with protecting the environment, some of the rhetoric railing against is quite dark and is hauntingly similar to things we see play out in some of these teen cases.

A few years back, I encountered several people who used social media and at least one traditional outdoors media program to suggest shooting dolphins to cure ailing flounder populations.

“They are always out there in the passes flipping those flounder out of the water and eating them, so we should start killing some of the dolphins,” one of them told me in an email.

This idea sadly gained a large enough following to cause me to receive multiple messages advocating for it after I published an article on flounder conservation issues.

Two years later, the two teens in the same area these suggestions came from killed the dolphin we spoke about at the beginning of this story.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard comments about some wild game meat tastes like “bald eagle” or “spotted owl.”

Those comments aren’t funny and could be damaging to the cause of hunting if uttered in front of a nonhunter.

But could they also influence teens who want to impress adults?

It’s something to ponder.

Games: A few years ago, I received a hunting video game to review in the mail. I’m not a gamer, and since it was unsolicited, I did not review it but put it away in a box in our storage unit.

When the dolphin shooting case occurred, I took it out for study.

The game had multiple opportunities to kill nongame and even endangered animals like Bengal tigers.

Some hunting games are ethical with bag limits, seasons, and other aspects of how true hunters conduct themselves. I would even say most hunting games I have looked at are now on the up and up and promote resource stewardship.

But there’s another side to gaming and wildlife. There are games based on survival and apocalyptic scenarios that have nothing to do with hunting, and killing animals is a key component. This includes many nongame, protected, and endangered species.

This makes me come back to the quote from the warden in charge of the Pennsylvania case.

“It was almost like a video game for them. They did it because they were bored, he said.

Looking into the content of first-person shooter games is certainly something we should do as families and maybe as an industry. Hunting games are great but they need to line up with conservation ethics. And we need to consider many of our young children are playing games that have nothing to do with hunting but have much indiscriminate killing.


There is a gap somewhere in wildlife education and awareness of the penalties for these wildlife atrocities. Teens have had their lives uprooted by the consequences of these senseless actions.

The great news is that there are far more teens engaged in conservation than poaching. And it’s time we highlight them even more in our media outlets.

The Houston Safari Club Foundation’s educational work with Houston area school districts is a shining example.

Teens get to see conservation-centric hunting information and are inspired to give back to our natural resources. And at the next stage, the scholarship program helps connect forward-thinking young people with careers in the world of wildlife management.

Programs like Texas Brigades and others do a great job of instilling conservation awareness as well.

I have personally been inspired to see how mentoring can help teens through our Higher Calling Wildlife expeditions and mentoring program.

And one particular occurrence touches directly on this issue.

Last November, I took 14-year-old Nathan Childress on a “green hunt” for Nubian ibex at a friend’s ranch. Instead of a standard rifle, he had a dart gun, and the mission was to dart the massive ibex billy that had jumped the fence and gotten into another pasture.

After a long afternoon of hunting, Nathan made a perfect shot. He got to inoculate the ibex against disease, pose for some incredible photos with it and help move it to the proper pasture.

As the Texas Hill Country sunset that evening, Nathan said something profound.

“When people teach you the right way to hunt, and you get to do things like this, you want to do the right thing. I will never poach animals because I respect them too much and want to make sure kids 10 years from now can have opportunities like I have,” he said.

We can have more testimonies like Nathan’s if we invest more time and effort into youth education and mentorship.

But we have to also dig into what is happening with this teen poaching crisis that is rising across our nation. Something is influencing some teens to not only damage wildlife populations and tarnish the reputation of legal hunters, but also negatively impact their lives.

As an industry, we must confront this for the sake of the future of wildlife and our youth.

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Tracking Louisiana’s Wild Turkeys

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Louisiana State University and the U.S. Forest Service are conducting a major study of turkeys in the Kisatchie National Forest in west-central Louisiana.

The study is tracking their movements in an area Hurricane Laura devastated in 2020 and also seeing how they respond to large-scale forest recovery and restoration efforts.

You can listen here.

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Sheep Show Coming This Week!

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) hosts its 46th annual Convention and Sporting Expo “The Sheep Show” Jan. 12-14 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center and the Peppermill Resort Spa & Casino.

“Every year we bring the sporting community together to celebrate outdoor traditions and raise money for the conservation and management of wild sheep,” said WSF President & CEO Gray N. Thornton. “It’s the largest celebration of mountain game hunting and conservation in the U.S. This year we’ve expanded the Expo to include three halls filled wall to wall with exhibits featuring the finest guides, outfitters, gear, taxidermy, art, firearms, optics and other outdoor essentials from North America and around the world.”

Higher Calling Wildlife will have coverage of the show on our Facebook and Instagram and a wrap-up here next week.

The Show features hundreds of exhibitors, educational seminars, youth events, drawings, hunt giveaways, raffles, and banquets. Nightly auctions feature more than $3 million in outdoor adventure trips and more special conservation permits than any other convention or hunting expo.

Money raised is used to enhance wild sheep populations across North America and internationally through disease research, herd monitoring, habitat improvements and other initiatives.

The Sheep Show is open to the public Thursday through Saturday, Jan. 12-14, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Show hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Daily admission is $25. Paid attendees are entered daily for floor credit drawings from $1,000-$5,000. Free seminars from experts on mountain hunting in North America, Europe, and Asia include topics such as wildlife conservation, travel, outdoor skills, backcountry fitness and nutrition, wild game preparation and cooking and hunter safety.

The Expo also features a free Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience open to the public at the convention center Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The youth event offers fun educational activities focused on conservation, outdoor skills and nature. 

A complete schedule of events, pre-registration and other details are available at www.wildsheepfoundation.org.

Daily passes are available at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on convention days. Five-dollar discount coupons are available at Sportsman’s Warehouse, Cabela’s, Scheels, Reno HUNTNHOUSE, Mark Fore & Strike (Reno), Bass Pro Shops (Sacramento), Gun World & Archery (Elko) and Honey Lake Firearms (Susanville).

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Higher Calling Wildlife (The Podcast)

Higher Calling Wildlife® is a multi-faceted platform and our epicenter is the multiple award-winning podcast. You can listen on all major podcast platforms including Spotify, Itunes, IHeartradio, Googleplay and others.

Featuring deep investigations, interviews with top-level guests and expert commentary, Higher Calling Wildlife is a must-listen. Subscribe and help us spread the word.

Listen to the current episode via the player below.

A 94 Pound Redfish & Red/Black Drum Hybrids Higher Calling Wildlife

Ever heard of a 94 pound redfish? How about one that is older than the United States retirement age? Check out this edition of the award-winning program and also learn about a forgotten stocking of black/red drum hybrids in Texas. Higher Calling Wildlife is sponsored by Texas Fish & Game.  
  1. A 94 Pound Redfish & Red/Black Drum Hybrids
  2. Monster Speckled Trout Hybrids In Texas
  3. TRWD Flyfest:Getting Back to the River
  4. Cloning Wildlife: Bringing Back the Thylacine and A Deep ’Dive on Conservation Cloning
  5. Tracking Eastern Turkeys

Higher Calling Wildlife is sponsored by Texas Fish & Game magazine.

Higher Calling Wildlife Is Back!

Greetings from Texas!

After a two-month hiatus, Higher Calling Wildlife, the media platform is back! There are some great things already completed that will debut soon and lots of things in the works for 2023.

Higher Calling Wildlife-the podcast makes its 2023 return with a new format Jan. 10. We’ll be putting a a weekly 10 minute episode on intriguing wildlife news and investigations and doing a monthly hourlong deep-dive.

And while we’re on the subject of the podcast, in 2022, we moved into a different network. We greatly appreciate the opportunity but the format didn’t work for how I needed to produce the program.

Now I’m back with my old host where I kept archives of the program and was blown away with how many people downloaded the archives in 2022. When I got the 50,000 downloads badge notification I was pleasantly surprised. I can’t wait to see the numbers we do with an active program on the podbean nework!

There will be much more audio and video content coming. I’m also doing a lot of freelance work on top of my main gig as Editor-In-Chief of Texas Fish & Game.

I’m motivated, more focused than normal (which is a lot) and ready to have an inspirational year of content creation and investigative wildlife journalism.

Chester Moore

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Meet Chester Moore Tomorrow! (Help Higher Calling Wildlife Expeditions)

Chester Moore and young artist Chanah Haley will host a book and poster signing Saturday Oct. 8 from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m. at Rambo Outdoors 2335 MacArthur Dr, Orange, TX 77630.

Chester will be signing his hunting and fishing books and Chana will debut a special poster of a red sheep she drew after taking part in one of Chester’s Higher Calling Wildlife expeditions.

“I’ll be there to talk with everyone and sign books to raise funds for our ministry work. It’s really about Chanah and her work. She went on our expedition, photographed a red sheep and then went and did the artwork. This shows her she can use her art for good and raise awareness to conservation. We will donate a portion of the proceeds to wild sheep conservation as well,” Moore said.

Above you see Chana taking photos in Kerr County, TX on a Higher Calling Wildlife expedition in May 2022. Here you see the art she did from one of of her photos. Order this poser and help other kids go on special expeditions.

You can order a print to be a limited to 40 signed and numbered to be shipped to you for only $25. Order here and clicking on the Higher Calling Wildlife fund.

Order here.

Come out to meet Chester, get a cool, limited art print and help the cause. You can also have a rare chance to talk one on one with Chester about wildlife, Dark Outdoors and other topics.

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Wildlife Wednesday: Shark In A Yard, Hurricane-Wildlife Blackout & Mysterious Water Deaths


Last week we reported on possible wildlife impacts to Hurricane Ian, but the damage has been so bad on the infrastructure side that little info has come out of that part of the state.

Even the toll on people remains mysterious at the time of this writing. Hopefully there will not be as many dead as some officials predict.

This was an incredibly powerful and devastating storm..

One interesting wildlife note that has come out of Florida is a video of a shark in a backyard in Fort Meyers.

There are photos and videos that seem to pop up around every storm and most of them are fake, but this one seems legit.

You can watch it here.

We will have updates on Ian’s wildlife impact when we get them.

Dark Outdoors: Mysterious Water Deaths

If you think you’ve heard it all in true crime and outdoors mysteries, think again. Chester Moore interviews William Ramsey of William Ramsey Investigates about mysterious water deaths that have been puzzling police around the nation.

You can listen by clicking here.

This takes us into the “Smiley Face Killers” phenomenon and we also delve into death cults link to murders in the great outdoors.

*Here why police and forensics experts believe young men are being taken and then dumped in water days, sometimes weeks after abduction.

*Learn why a smiley face can be a sinister symbol when found in the outdoors.

*Hear about dangerous death cults who operate in wilderness areas and along the border.

Speaking For The Wildlife Society

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at Stephen F. Austin State University for The Wildlife Society.

My presentation was about how to make an impact on wildlife conservation.

I shared some of my adventures in the field from photographing bighorn sheep to working with sharks.

It was a fun evening and several students have connected with me since then to find ways to use their photography to help wildlife. We will publish some of their work here soon.

Saving Vietnam’s “Unicorn”

One of the world’s rarest animals—the saola, a type of wild cattle likely down to a few individuals—is getting a critical emergency boost from the European Union, Re:wild and WWF-Viet Nam to prevent its extinction.

According to a press release by Re:wild: the saola is the focus of the latest efforts by the Rapid Response for Ecosystems, Species and Communities Undergoing Emergencies (Rapid RESCUE) fund, established in 2020 by the EU, Leonardo DiCaprio and Re:wild to provide a swift response to emerging biodiversity threats.

 Saola photo by Toon Fey, WWF

The funding will support Re:wild and WWF-Viet Nam in their search for the last saola that survive in Viet Nam, as a first step in securing these animals for a conservation breeding program to ensure the species’ survival. As a result of the global covid pandemic, intensive search efforts to find the last Saola were effectively stopped for two years, greatly increasing the need for emergency support to quickly initiate surveys and conservation measures to save it from extinction.

“We have an amazing opportunity here to find and save the last saola in Viet Nam,” said Andrew Tilker, Re:wild’s Asian species officer.

“And as we are searching for saola, we will also be looking for some of the other special and endangered species that are found only in the Annamite Mountains. We are working with local stakeholders to start conservation breeding programs for a number of these species with the aim of someday returning them to the wild when it is safe to do so.”

The saola, which was only discovered by scientists in 1992, is so rare that no biologist has ever seen one in the wild. Their evasiveness has earned them the nickname Asian “unicorn.” Like other species in the Annamite Mountains, a rugged mountain chain on the border of Viet Nam and Laos, saola are the victims of unsustainable hunting through wire snares. Although the snares do not target saola, they indiscriminately kill ground-dwelling animals, and have emptied the forests of wildlife across the region.

“Protecting ecosystems is key for wildlife to flourish,” said Giorgio Aliberti, head of the European Union Delegation to Vietnam. “We all depend on it, as biodiversity is crucial to safeguard global food systems and ultimately food security. The European Union is proud to support conservation efforts to save species like saola from extinction, in line with the EU biodiversity strategy.”

Since the saola’s discovery, biologists have only photographed the species five times in the wild, all by camera traps—twice in Laos and three times in Viet Nam. The most recent camera trap photos were taken in 2013, when a WWF camera trap caught images of an animal in central Viet Nam. This year’s Southeast Asia Games, which ran from May 12 through May 23, featured the saola as its mascot.

For more information click here.

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Wildlife Disaster: Hurricane Ian Will Be A Game-Changer In Florida

As monster category 4 Hurricane Ian slams into Florida, the human loss is of course the priority.

There are still people in danger and many homes and businesses are already destroyed.

This is a game changing storm for the Gulf side of Florida.

There will be a major wildlife and wildlife habitat toll as well and that is what we are going to cover here.

Although it will be at least 24 hours before we get into on major results of the storm on wildlife, here is what I believe we should expect.

Manatee Strandings: With the water already sucked out of Tampa Bay in a reverse surge situation, you can expect some impact to the West Indian manatee.

These animals have suffered tremendous losses over the last couple of years and there are chances of strandings and deaths due to direct impact and stress.

Manatee strandings are a big concern in the wake if Ian. (USFWS Photo)

Fish Kills: A storm brining up to 18 feet of storm surge with giant waves on top of that will cause major fish kills along much of the impacted area.

Fish kills will likely occur many miles inland. (USFWS Photo)

Canals where water has been sucked out will see fish death and saltwater intrusion of inland areas will also cause issues. It might be a fe days before we see this begin to happen on a large-scale but it will happen.

Key Deer: The Florida Keys dodged the major brunt of this storm but there was some storm surge.

I got this report from the National Weather Service

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for the Lower Florida Keys including Key West through Big Pine Key– Act now over the next several hours near and after the low tide to protect property.  

Widespread Storm Surge Flooding originating from the Gulfside up to 4 feet above normal high tide levels is expected from Key West through Big Pine Key.  For several islands, this will allow the storm surge to pass over from Gulfside to oceanside.  The peak storm surge levels will likely occur from around noon through mid afternoon. 

It went on to say many streets will become impassable with water into ground floor homes and businesses, especially those in lower elevation areas.  

Key deer are under threat on Big Pine Key. (Photo by Faith Moore)

The largest concentration of the endangered Key deer is on Big Pine Key which has an elevation of three feet, so there is still some concern for the wildlife there.

Displaced Snakes & Hogs: In the aftermath of the storm, Florida’s very abundant feral hog and snake population in the impacted areas will be displaced.

That will mean cottonmouths and rattlesnakes in and around housing editions and feral hogs showing up in high ground around cities.

People will need to use extreme caution around debris.

We will post an update as soon as we know more on the wildlife end of things.

Keep the people and wildlife of Florida in your prayers.

They need it.

Chester Moore

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Wildlife Wednesday: Bitten By A Cottonmouth!

Join Higher Calling Wildlife founder and Dark Outdoors host Chester Moore as he interviews veteran and outdoors lover Lucas Pelt who experienced a very serious cottonmouth bite. Learn how it happened and the experience Pelt had in the aftermath.

Listen to the episode here.

In our Dark Outdoors defense segment, we check in with renowned snake venom expert Dr. Spencer Greene and learn what to do if you do get bitten by a snake.

Oh, and we also cover what NOT to do.

The outdoors is a place of serenity and beauty but at times the outdoors experience goes dark. And it can go dark quickly for someone experiencing a venomous snake bite.

Learn more about Dr. Greene and his work at the link here.

Elk In TX Hill Country

A few weeks ago, we put out the word for free-ranging elk photos in the Texas Hill Country.

This is the first shot we got. It’s from Kennth Johnson and he got this near Rock Springs, TX.

Reader Rpy Heiderman photographed this elk near Utopia, TX.

If you have photos of free-ranging elk anywhere in Texas, email me at chester@chestermoore.com. I’d love to share the photos with others.

SFA Student Wins 2022 Tony Houseman Conservation Legacy Award

Borel is studying forestry with a wildlife management concentration.

“It’s such an honor and privilege to receive this award,” Borel said.

“I want to make an impact for wildlife and also get young people involved in conservation, hunting and fishing. This award inspires me to push even harder toward those goals.”

Borel has contributed online articles to fishgame.com and has a feature entitled “Why This College Girl Huns” in the Sept/Oct. edition of Texas Fish & Game.

Emily Odom was inspired by her 2020 turkey release experience. She began doing conservation art for Higher Calling Wildlife and won the 2021 Tony Houseman Conservation Legacy Award.

The award is given annually by Higher Calling Wildlife®, founded by Chester Moore.

“Tony Houseman was a mentor of mine at a very young age. I met him when I was 20 and he made a tremendous impact on me and my career. This honor is for his long-standing legacy of conservation and helps give young people going above and beyond the call of duty a boost to carry on in what can be very hard work,” Moore said.

Borel is the third recipient of the award and was chosen because of her heart for serving and conservation.

“Grades are wonderful. Academics are important and she has those but then there is heart and commitment on top of that. We watched Amber not only serve relentlessly helping some projects we did with young children and wildlife but also write a book about shark conservation she wants to give to kids. She’s a special young lady and me and my wife Lisa are honored to know her,” Moore said.

Tony Houseman was a dedicated conservationist who at different times served as president of the @houstonsafariclubfoundation and Dallas Safari Club. He helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for conservation work across North America and Africa.

His last major hunt was a “green hunt” to extract DNA from a white rhino for conservation purposes, which is why the award itself is a bronze rhinoceros.

Higher Calling Wildlife® is proud that Amber Borel is the third recipient of the Tony Houseman Conservation Legacy Award.

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Wildlife Wednesday Black Tiger Captured On Video In India

In a rare sighting, a majestic black tiger was spotted in Odisha’s Similipal National Park according to India Times.

The tiger was seen marking its territory, leaving scratch marks on a tree in the 15-second clip posted on Twitter on the occasion of International Tigers Day. The clip was posted by Indian Forest Service Officer Susanta Nanda. He wrote in the caption, “Sharing an interesting clip of a rare melanistic tiger marking its territory on international Tigers day.”

I was blown away at this news.

You can see an image from the photo in this screen shot from the man who captured the video footage’s Twitter account.

I’m grateful for him sharing this with the world and making tiger issues more known to the public. You can see more of his posts on Twitter here.

Tiger color phases have intrigued me for years since my friend renown wildlife artist Bill Rebsamen showed me prints he did of both a melanistic (black) tiger and a blue tiger. We’ll get to the blue in another story later this fall.

You can get custom work done from Bill Rebsamen. Click here to check out this website.

I had this image from Bill Rebsamen on my wall for years but lost it during a Hurricane.

This tiger isn’t fully melanistic but it’s the first image captured like this for years-at least that I am aware of.

It’s interesting this video comes as India’s tiger population is on the rise. Much work has been done with habitat connectivity with neighboring countries and overall protection from poaching.

Will increasing numbers mean we see more of these and other color phases?

It’s fascinating and as a big fan of this species I’m excited.

Dark Outdoors Podcast; Shark Numbers Rising! New Tech To Deter Shark Attacks

In episode four of Dark Outdoors, host Chester Moore digs deep into the rising shark numbers in the Gulf of Mexico, shark attacks and shark deterrent technology.

You can listen to the episode here.

Learn the following:

*Which shark species are on the rise and how sharks are a vital part of the ecosystem

*The truth about the bull shark’s attitude

*Which species never gets mentioned on top shark attacks list, but is really just below the bull shark.

*What caused a massive great white to turn away when encountering a surfer.

*How Shark Banz is giving many more confidence in shark infested waters.

Plus much, much more

Dark Outdoors is brought to you by the following:

*Texas Frightmare Weekend, The Southwest’s Premier Horror Convention and Film Festival.

*Hog Hunt USA-A Forthcoming App For Hog Hunting

*Texas Fish & Game magazine

Searching For TX Hill Country Elk

In an article at Texas Fish & Game last week, I discussed the history of elk in East Texas and put the word out for photos and accounts of elk in that region.

This week we’re looking at elk in the Hill Country.

A study by Richardson B. Gill, Christopher Gill, Reeda Peel, and Javier Vasquez gives a deep look at Texas elk history, including in the Panhandle and Hill Country.

The earliest recorded sighting of elk in Texas occurred in 1601 according to the authors. The Spanish governor of New Mexico, don Juan de Oñate, embarked on an exploration of lands to the northeast of Santa Fe.

“This river [the Canadian] is thickly covered on all sides with these cattle [bison] and with another not less wonderful, consisting of deer which are as large as large horses. They travel in droves of two and three hundred and their deformity causes one to wonder whether they are deer or some other animal.”

Translation: Elk.

You can read the full article at Texas Fish & Game here.

I’m looking for photographic evidence of free-ranging elk in the Texas Hill Country. If you have photos email chester@chestermoore.com.

Wild Sheep Foundation Providing $1.22 Million In Grants

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) Board of Directors has approved funding for its FY2022-23 slate of Grant-in-Aid projects.

WSF will be contributing $1,222,637.00 toward 14 projects that in total will exceed $5 million to benefit wild sheep populations across North America. This Conservation Grant funding is one component of the expected $6 Million in mission program funding WSF will direct this fiscal year.

“As the trusted facilitator for raising and directing funds for wild sheep conservation, we receive a number of grant requests,” explained Gray N. Thornton, President, and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation.

“This means a lot of agencies, universities, individuals, and other conservation partners are focusing on wild sheep, which is a good thing. We’re excited about this level of commitment and the quality of projects these experts have identified and brought forth.”

The project submission period was July 2022. WSF’s Conservation Staff conducted the initial review of funding requests received, followed by an independent review by WSF’s Professional Resource Advisory Board.

Final funding recommendations were made to the WSF Board of Directors, giving special consideration to funding requests submitted by or through its network of 36 Chapters and Affiliates.

Funding was awarded to a diversity of projects spanning from British Columbia to Mexico, focusing on:

• Population Restoration – Trap & Transplants, GPS Radio Collaring
• Habitat Enhancement – Water Development, Prescribed Burns
• Disease Management – Test & Remove, Pathogen Surveillance
“This level of funding would not be possible without the unwavering generosity of our membership, industry partners, Chapters and Affiliates, and other wild sheep enthusiasts,” Thornton concluded.

Over the past ten years WSF has invested over $50 million in wild sheep conservation funding.

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