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 are 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.
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 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?
There 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.
I love black bears and I love Estes Park, Co.
The Inspirational Voice Of Mountain & Forest Wildlife Conservation