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Higher Calling Wildlife Takes Big Honors

Higher Calling Wildlife® hosted by wildlife journalist Chester Moore on the Waypoint Podcast Network recently received some major honors.

At the Press Club of Southeast Texas Awards, Higher Calling Wildlife took top honors in the news category for the “Man Attacked By Hog” episode.

In addition, his “Wild Sheep Pandemic” public service announcement took first place in the Public Service Announcement category and was written, narrated and edited by Moore to raise awareness to the issue of pathogen/disease transmission between domestic and wild sheep.

He also took first place for the following categories:

*Chester’s program “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI, took first place for radio talk show for an episode he did on Texas’ desert bighorns with Froylan Hernandez, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Desert Bighorn Sheep Program leader.

*Travel writing for “Sea Flats Safari: Seeking The Flats Slam In The Florida Keys” articles in Hunter’s Horn from the Houston Safari Club Foundation.

*Environmental writing for Chester’s in-depth work on wild turkey restoration in East Texas here at Higher Calling Wildlife®.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by a prestigious group of media professionals like the Press Club of Southeast Texas. Getting honored for broadcasting about wildlife conservation is really exciting”, Moore said.

Higher Calling Wildlife® received another major honor as the program was ranked one of the top wildlife conservation podcasts on the planet by Feedspot. In the 2021 rankings, the program (in its first year) ranked in the top 20.


“I just received an update that we are now the number 10 wildlife conservation podcast on the planet ranked by traffic, social media followers, authority & content. This kind of thing motivates me to work even harder and to use the God-given gift of communication to forward the cause of conservation,” Moore said.

Email Chester at chester@chestermoore.com

Follow Chester Moore and Higher Calling Wildlife® on the following social media platforms

@thechestermoore on Instagram

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Sheep Summit Inspires

There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Well, if there was, much restraint went into keeping them that way.

As the wild and domestic sheep disease documentary Transmission wrapped up and director and producer Jesse Bone approached the podium for questions, there was a palpable sense of urgency.

It was like the previous day’s viewing of Team Bighorn, which showed the Herculean efforts to capture, collar and test wild sheep for pathogen/disease in Idaho.

Watch Team Bighorn below.

Team Bighorn Film from Silverline Films on Vimeo.

According to movifree.orgMycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi) is a bacterial species commonly found in the nasal cavity and sinuses of apparently healthy domestic sheep and goats.

It is transmitted to wild sheep and goats (bighorn sheep, thinhorn sheep, and mountain goats) via nose-to-nose contact and, less commonly, aerosol/droplet transmission. In bighorn sheep and very likely thinhorn sheep, M. ovi has been associated with large all-aged die-offs due to pneumonia, which is often followed by years of lower lamb birth and survival rates that can have devastating population impacts.

The two films were rallying cries at a two-day summit of the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) and its Chapters and Affiliates in San Antonio, TX.

Hosted by WSF Affiliate, the Texas Bighorn Society (TBS), the goal was to galvanize, organize and strategize wild sheep conservation.

“Leaders and delegates of our chapter and affiliate network convene every year in a one-tent, one-campfire gathering to address challenges and opportunities for wild sheep conservation across North America and internationally,” said Gray N. Thornton, President, and CEO of WSF.

Froylan Hernandez addresses the attendees on the status of bighorns in Texas. (Photo by Chester Moore)

Experts from around the country discussed many items, ranging from fundraising to engaging use of social media, but was M .ovi was front and center.

From capture and removal plans to testing and treatment of domestic sheep herds in bighorn country, speaker after speaker tackled this topic.

Froylan Hernandez, Desert Bighorn Sheep Program Leader with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD), shared the latest on sheep in the Trans-Pecos.

That included drought-related issues and research showing non-indigenous aoudad carry M. ovi and are a growing threat to bighorns and other wildlife through food and habitat competition.

Taking a practical approach that considers the needs of private landowners as well as bighorns, TPWD is engaging the issue directly.

Other issues are impacting sheep as well. Thinhorns are feeling the impacts of climate change in Alaska and Canada. Migration corridors are being looked at and predation always looms as a growing threat.

Dall sheep have experienced die-offs in several ranges in Alaska due to climate change-related issues. WSF recently concluded a thinhorn summit in the Yukon to address these and other issues facing Dall and Stone Sheep. (USFWS Photo)

The challenges are obvious, but discussion and actions taken at the summit were urgent and optimistic.

Despite recent die-offs, Texas is still just below historic (1800s) level desert bighorn populations thanks to the efforts of TPWD, TBS, WSF, and others.

New Mexico has seen a big shift in numbers to the positive over the last few decades and Mexico is experiencing a renaissance of sorts in desert bighorn sheep conservation and hunting.

Upgrade is the goal, but challenges continue to rise.

“We’re going to face those challenges and dare to do epic stuff,” Thornton said.

“We’re going to continue the legacy of putting and keeping wild sheep on the mountain and collaboratively we can make it happen in a big way.”

That was exemplified at the wrap-up dinner and auction that saw thousands of dollars raised for TBS water projects in West Texas.

A particular herd of desert bighorns has taken residence in a remote area near the Mexico border. And with current and historic drought an issue there, these projects could be lifesaving.

But that wasn’t all.

Just before the night was over, Thornton announced The Iowa Chapter of WSF sought to fund a special project in Nebraska.

Rocky Mountain bighorns in Nebraska were the recipients of funding generated from a call to action issued the last night of the summit. (Photo by Chester Moore)

A small but impressive herd of Rocky Mountain bighorns lives in the northwestern corner of the state and the goal is to translocate some to another area with suitable habitat.

With disease already an issue there, the hope is to spread healthy animals into other areas and expand the population.

More than $100,000 was raised with a $50,000 donation from WSF and the rest pledged from numerous chapters and affiliates.

It was an inspiring way to end an event that saw selfless dedication to a wildlife resource highlighted from the Yukon to Colorado and from Arizona to Wyoming.

From Stone sheep to California bighorns, no species or subspecies was left unmentioned, and each chapter and affiliate seemed focused on not only maintaining but growing sheep populations in their state.

This event was a major victory for hunter-conservationists.

It was evident without the interests of hunters and the funding that comes through WSF, its chapters, affiliates, and state/provincial/tribal sheep tags, these animals could easily slip into obscurity.

And that is inspiring because the commitment from everyone in the room was real and passionate.

And that’s a major victory for wild sheep.

For animals facing so many threats, it will take zeal and commitment to see them through.

And those two forces were alive and well at the summit.

Conservationists from the United States, Canada, and Mexico left inspired for the cause of wild sheep.

There’s much work to do but there’s a powerful group of allies to make it happen.

Chester Moore

Email Chester at chester@chestermoore.com

Follow Chester Moore and Higher Calling Wildlife® on the following social media platforms

@thechestermoore on Instagram

Higher Calling Wildlife on Facebook

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COVID-19 In Whitetail Deer: Top Biologist Gives Latest Info, Plus A Deep Dive On CWD

COVID-19 has been found in whitetail deer in Texas and numerous Midwestern states.

And contrary to social media chatter, it’s not the coronavirus common to certain animals. It’s the same COVID-19 impacting people around the world.

Biologist Macey Ledbetter with a whitetail on one of his ranch surveys.

In this special edition of Higher Calling Wildlife, host Chester Moore interviews veteran wildlife biologist Macey Ledbetter of Spring Creek Outdoors who works with deer on a daily basis through Texas.

Click here to listen.

In this episode the following points are addressed:

*Location (County) of COVID-19 deer study in Texas.

*Latest theories on how deer got the virus.

*Concerns about deer transmitting it to humans.

In addition Chester and Macey go deep into Chronic Wasting Disease talking about number of deer killed in Texas, possible genetic links to CWD susceptibility, how the disease impacts deer breeders and the possible overlooked transmitting species that no one seems to be examining in Texas.

Higher Calling Wildlife was recently named one of the top 20 wildlife podcasts on the planet and won Best Podcast in the Press Club of Southeast Texas “Excellence In Media” awards.

Higher Calling Wildlife is brought to you by Texas Fish & Game.

Dark Outdoors (Humans) Pt. 1

Ted Bundy.

It’s a name that invokes horror some 40 years after this despicable reign of terror.

And that was the name carved into a tree deep in a national forest in Utah where Josh Slone was bowhunting mule deer.

“It was an old inscription and it was chilling, especially knowing Bundy lived in Utah and killed people there,” Slone said.

There are other alleged Bundy tree carvings but this one was far, far off the beaten path.

Had one of the most evil people who ever walked the planet actually carved that into the tree?

There is no way to tell but there is no question that bad people often do the worst things in remote places.

A couple of years ago someone asked me what was the most dangerous thing to encounter in the woods.

Since I’ve written and broadcasted extensively on cougars, snakes, feral hogs and bears they were expecting one of those as the answer.

“People, ” I said.

“There is nothing more dangerous than people, especially in remote forests and mountainous regions.”

Deep woods can sometimes mean big dangers. (Public Domain Photo)

The answer came from collecting stories as a journalist over the years and my own personal experiences which I will discuss in upcoming posts and broadcasts.

The stories are omnipresent.

Take for example the caller to my radio program “Moore Outdoors” on Newtalk AM 560 KLVI who found a body burning while teal hunting with his son south of Houston.

Another caller revealed that in the 70s he and his father were out night fishing near High Islalnd, TX and see someone against the shoreline burying something and decided to leave.

Turns out it was monstrous serial killer Dean Corll who brutalized dozens of teenage boys.

Remote areas are often the most peaceful but due to the isolation can be extremely dangerous.

The author often finds himself in very remote locations. Here he glasses for bighorn sheep in a remote valley in Colorado.

My goal is to educate people on what can happen in these areas and how to be prepared so that all deep woods hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing trips are safe.

That will require bringing to light some uncomfortable facts. And it will also involve creating a system of proactive safety.

I see these human-related threats falling into four categories.

*Idiot Hunters: These are those rare , unethical, clueless hunters who should not be in the woods (and give the rest of us a bad name). Every years stories of people shooting someone because they heard something coming through the bushes. This is probably statistically the most dangerous human threat because of the widespread nature of hunters in America.

*Poachers: Encountering a poacher in the woods can be dangerous if they assume you will turn them in or if you make the mistake of confronting them instead of law enforcement handling the duties. It’s not as dangerous as it is in Africa where organized crime and even terror cells are involved in high stakes rhino and elephant poaching but it is a potential threat.

*Drug Trade: Finding meth labs and pot farms is not good. People do not want their operations found out and will go to any length to stop someone from squealing.

*Predators: This is the highest level. This is coming across someone hunting humans whether to rape, kill or terrorize.

There is no way to tell if the Bundy inscription at the beginning of the story was actually made by that monster but think about what would happen if you had stumbled upon him carving into a tree with knife in hand.

Would you be ready to defend yourself? Would you even be suspect of this person?

There are lots of questions that need answering and we will do that here and on my other media platforms throughout 2020.

Chester Moore

You can subscribe to this blog by entering your email address at the subscribe prompt at the top right of this page. You can contact Chester Moore by emailing chester@chestermoore.com. Subscribe to the podcast by visiting thehighercalling.podbean.com.