A member Order carnivora, black bears are technically omnivores equally at home eating plant material and meat. Their abilities as actual predators however is highly overlooked.
The USDA’s feralhogs.extension.org information site lists numerous potential hog predators. Their take on bear predation was interesting.
The black bear is known to prey on feral hogs of all ages; however, the impact of predation by this bear on feral hog populations is not known. Some researchers have speculated that black bears probably kill few if any feral hogs, especially given that an adult hog would represent a formidable adversary for a black bear. In fact, in the 1920s a feral boar in the Okefenokee Swamp was reported to have killed a black bear in a fight between the two animals. Similar accounts of feral boars killing bears during fights in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas were reported in the 1880s.
They continued by noting that being opportunistic, black bears have been reported to raid nylon net live traps used for feral hog control at high elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to obtain any trapped hogs contained within these devices.
This is an interesting notation because there is evidence in some studies that black bears can become specialists at preying on particular species such as research conducted related to black bear-caribou predation in Newfoundland.
Gatlinburg is the Smoky Mountains region where USDA officials have noted them raiding hog traps. Since this area was one of the first to have large hog populations of feral hogs, have hogs there adapted them as a regular part of their diet?
Other animals are certainly on the black bear’s menu.
A study by researchers Quitana and Tatman probing bear predation on elk showed serious impact on young in certain areas.
The primary cause of death for calves across all years was black bear predation (57 of 140 non-anthropogenic mortalities). Predation was the primary cause of death for juveniles during their first 3 weeks of life, resulting in 84 of 92 non-anthropogenic mortalities. During this time, black bears were the primary predator but coyotes and mountain lions were also predators.
The Billings Gazette reported on an interagency study of elk-calf mortality in the Garnet Mountains of Montana.
Over the five years of the study, 221 calves were captured for monitoring. In that group, 41 deaths were documented. Bears accounted for almost 27 percent of elk calf deaths. Malnutrition and disease were the second-largest threat while mountain lions ranked third, blamed for about 17 percent of elk calf deaths.
We’re glad Talbot was in the right place at the right time and was happy to share his video with the world.
I don’t know what side you’re on in this battle but I say, “Go bear!”
With feral hog populations exploding and causing damage to native wildlife and habitat, it’s good to see something take a bite out of them.
Last Tuesday the beautiful, Eastern turkey jake was in Maine.
On Thursday a box labeled National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) was opened by Sean Willis of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD).
Out of it, that same young male turkey flew into the forest of Angelina County, TX near Lufkin.
A total of 22 birds, all from Maine, became Texas citizens that day as a long-standing collaboration between TPWD and NWTF met with the Middle Neches Eastern Turkey Cooperative.
“Our Turkey Restoration Co-op, includes a group of seven landowners and consists of approximately 11,000 acres,” said Jay Todd of Core Supply LLC.
“We began our journey for restocking Eastern turkeys back in 2015, when we first put in our application with TPWD. We ended up not passing our habitat evaluation that year, and knew we had some work to do with regard to improving our habitat.”
Over the next four years, the group of landowners worked hard on enhancing habitat for Eastern turkeys.
“Specifically, we increased our usage of prescribed fire, herbicide applications, and row thinnings, and created more permanent openings throughout the entire landscape. Then, once we re-applied in 2019, our efforts were rewarded when TPWD’s Turkey Program Leader Jason Hardin let us know that we had passed.”
“It’s a dream come true for our landowners, and we know the work has only just begun. Now, we have to continue building upon our habitat improvements and trying to control predator populations as best we can in order for these birds to have the best chance at long term reproductive success. A special thanks also goes out to the Vines, Kenley, Loggins and Todd families, and Don Dietz with Forest Resource Consultants, Inc.,” Todd said.
Among the project partners, NWTF holds a unique position.
“NWTF holds an agreement with Delta Cargo. The Texas State Chapter of NWTF reimburses NWTF National office for the fees associated with shipping birds by air,” said NWTF biologist Annie Farrell.
“The Texas State Chapter also assists with funding for disease testing and reimbursing TPWD staff who travel out of state to collect and haul the birds (not this year though. All birds came in via air). NWTF also provides transport boxes to whichever states are trapping for Texas, free of cost.”
NWTF also holds an agreement with TPWD and other separate agreements with the other state agencies that are sending birds. Through those agreements, trap states are able to be “paid” for the turkeys.
“TPWD reimburses NWTF and NWTF holds the turkey replacement funds for state specific reimbursements. Trap states can submit a turkey replacement form to NWTF to make purchases on their behalf,” Farrell said.
TPWD under the leadership of Hardin have created “super stockings” of turkeys with a minimum of 80 birds stocked in a location with a male/female ratio that allows for optimal population expansion.
Sites in Titus and Franklin County are nearing their “super stocking” goals and new areas are under consideration after careful scientific evaluation.
Turkeys are a key indicator of forest health.
This wildlife journalist believes as turkeys go, so do America’s forests. Seeing eastern turkeys return to the Pineywoods and expand their numbers thanks to the cooperation that helped make the Angelina County release possible is inspiring.
It’s all about people stepping up to make a difference for wildlife and the legacy they create for conservation.
“We lost the patriarch of our cooperative this past year, when Mr. Simon W. “Bubba” Henderson III passed away after his long bout with cancer,” Todd said.
“The Henderson family are the owners of the Pine Island Hunting & Fishing Club, where our birds were released, and we know he was looking down upon us today with a big smile on his face.”
Last summer in Pearland, TX five horses were killed in the span of a month in one neighorhood and and authorities confirmed at least one of those was stabbed like Commissioner Martin’s horse. Exact means of death in the series of killings was not released to the media.
Those horses also had their meat taken and that was not the case in the Port Arthur killing.
The Pearland killings are likely tied to a black market meat trade that has been uncovered in Florida where these types of slaughters have been going on for several years.
But meat harvest is not the only motive behind Texas horse killings.
The second situation is the killing of horses for seemingly no gain other than to kill the animal or perhaps terrorize the owners.
And within an hour of Port Arthur, a string of these kinds of horse killings began in 2017.
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.
These horses had no meat taken. They were left dead where they were shot.
And those killings are strikingly similar to reports from summer 2020 between San Antonio and Port Mansfield.
Jessica Neu’s horse Seabiscuit was shot in a navigation district pasture outside the small coastal community last August.
“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” she said in a Facebook post.
An Aug. 5 2020 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.
A series of horse killings has also taken place in Colorado and Utah. A well-publicized cluster of killings in South Carolina which were believed to be stabbings has more recently been linked to feral hogs. We’ll have more on that soon.
If you have any information on any of these horse killings report it to local law enforcement officials. Horses are an important animal for many people, especially in the outdoors community.
Why they are the target of such violent acts is a mystery that needs solved-quickly.
The story written by award-winning wildlife journalist & conservationist Chester Moore detailed the story of a bear caught on video by a fishermen swimming from Mexico to the Texas side of the lake.
It also detailed the black bear’s return throughout South, West and Northeast Texas.
“It’s an honor to win this award for a subject I am so passionate about. Hopefully this will help give me an opportunity to raise more awareness to the return of bears to Texas,” Moore said.
Moore, who has recently joined Bear Trust International (BTI), believes conservation groups like BTI and conservation-minded hunters and outdoor lovers will be crucial to future bear management in Texas.
“Texans are not used to bears but in parts of the state they are going to have to get educated. I highly recommend connecting with BTI and learning about bears and bear management,” Moore said.
Moore was awarded 10 TOWA “Excellence In Craft” awards including five first place showings in publication, magazine feature, website and video categories.
“It’s an honor and privilege to be recognized by such a prestigious organization of such talented outdoor communicators,” Moore said.
Besides being the founder of Higher Calling Wildlife, Moore is also co-founder of the Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center® and the Wild Wishes® program with his wife Lisa where they work with critically ill and abused children in nature settings.
He is also a member of many wildlife and fisheries conservation groups in addition to BTI including the Houston Safari Club Foundation, National Wild Turkey Federation, Coastal Conservation Association, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, The Wild Sheep Foundation, Texas Bighorn Society, Oregon Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society and the Rocky Mountain Goat Alliance.
Moore is Editor-In-Chief of Texas Fish & Game, host of “Moore Outdoors” on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI and the “Higher Calling Wildlife” and “Higher Calling Gulf Coast” podcasts.
The record-setting freeze that hit Texas over the last week has devasted two species of well-established non-indegenous antelope species in several areas.
The nilgai antelope, a native of India and Pakistan has been free-ranging along the Lower Coast from around Baffin Bay to the Mexico line for more than 80 years.
These very large antelope are notoriously susceptible to extreme cold and we have received a report of more than a dozen dead nilgai found on one eight mile stretch of road with others standing around in very uncharacteristic fashion.
It’s hard to get in-depth reports at the moment with power outages, etc. especially since the majority of nilgai live on two of Texas’ largest private ranches, the King and Kenedy but there is historical precedence.
According to officials with the Texas Tech Natural Science Research Library, a past freeze put a huge hit on the species.
During the severe winter of 1972–1973, 1,400 of 3,300 nilgai (estimated population at the time) were killed by the weather in southern Texas. This die-off was exacerbated by previous brush clearing, which resulted in forage loss and increased competition with livestock and other wildlife.
The much smaller blackbuck antelope is a more widespread species and while there are free-ranging populations in the Edwards Plateau, most live behind game proof fences.
Also from India and Pakistan, they are not the most cold tolerant of animals and there are numerous photos floating around social media of large numbers of blackbuck as well as some axis deer dead on ranches.
We will have more on the impact on these animals that have become an important part of the Texas outdoors economy and are highly valued for their meat (especially nilgai) and revered by sportsmen.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) will host its annual Convention and Sport Show but this time virtually.
And registration is officially open.
As with many recent conventions across the country, the 2021 NWTF convention will look much different than previous years but still provide a wealth of information, entertainment and inspiration for turkey hunters and other wildlife lovers who support NWTF.
The NWTF will host the 45th annual Convention from Johnny Morris’ Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, MO, highlighting many of the acclaimed wildlife exhibits bringing conservation and the outdoors lifestyle directly to at-home viewers.
“Attendees will be able to experience the many great things that make our Convention and Sport Show so special — a lineup of great music, including a Lee Brice concert; messages from leaders in the conservation and hunting communities; awards for those dedicated to the NWTF mission; a veterans celebration; and silent and live auctions, among so much more.”
The Convention and Sport Show kicks off Monday, Feb. 15, and will continue through Sunday, Feb. 21, with evening programming streaming Friday and Saturday.
In addition to on-demand video content and seminars, virtual attendees can enjoy the immersive exhibit hall that will host nearly 100 vendors. Once registered, you will be able to interact directly with the brands you all know and love, and experience all the great outdoor products the sport show offers.
Access to the convention is free with current NWTF membership. Non-members will get an annual NWTF membership when registering for convention access and a $25 Bass Pro Promo card. All participants can join our scavenger hunt and interact to earn points for a chance to win a TriStar Upland Hunter 20 gauge.
“We encourage friends, family and loved ones who cherish the wild turkey and our outdoors lifestyle to register for the convention to join in on the fun,” said Jason Burckhalter, NWTF chief information officer. “Although in a different environment, the show must go on as we look forward to celebrating all of our achievements, members, volunteers and partners.”
A trail camera captured the image of a jaguar in Arizona’s Chiricahua/Dos Cabezas mountain range Jan. 6.
According to officials with the Chiricahua National Monument, it is the same male that has been photographed in the area off and on since 2016.
Both Arizona and New Mexico have verified jaguar migration into their jurisdictions through a trail camera project over the last 15 years.
Although chiefly associated with South America and tropical rainforests, jaguars occupy a variety of habitats that once included Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. There are even historical accounts of them in Louisiana.
Jaguars face a host of problems including increased poaching.
The Asian black market for tiger parts, such as claws for traditional medicines, has depleted most of Asia’s tiger populations. Due to having direct links because of thousands of workers in South and Central American countries, they are targeting jaguars-in particular for their claws and heads.
According to a study published in Conservation Biology, jaguar poaching, as noted by seizures of jaguar parts by wildlife officials and customs agents, increased 200-fold in South America in five years.
Hunting of jaguars is illegal in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, the United States, and Venezuela.
Ecotourism has proven a valuable asset to wildlife in areas where it is feasible but only in Brazil’s Pantanal region is the jaguar a factor. It’s the only place on Earth where ecotourists see them regularly. Otherwise, they are one of the planet’s most elusive animals.
Impoverished people with very little governmental oversight will have a hard time passing up the opportunity to kill these cats if it means money.
There have been a few attempts at “green hunting” for jaguars to dart them for GPS collaring and research with success in Bolivia.
We are partnering with Kingdom Zoo Wildlife Center for project to engage kids in jaguar conservation. It’s called Jaguar Revival.
Its goal is to revive awareness of jaguar conservation and inspire young people to get directly involved in the cause. It will use investigative journalism to get the story of what’s really happening with jaguars to the public.
It will also issue conservation challenges for kids and teens and create a reward system that recognizes young people stepping out to help these great cats.
California State Senator Scott Weiner’s “Bear Protection Act” would have ended all hunting of black bears in California.
He withdrew the bill Monday after a vast opposition from wildlife managers, conservation organizations, and hunters.
Bear Trust International’s Executive Director Logan Young said his group strongly opposed the legislation as it was based “100 percent off emotion and had zero scientific data to back it up”.
“Sportsmen and conservationists rallied together to display the true biological facts and proven negative outcomes of what they were proposing. The right decision was made,” Young said.
Under a management system where hunting is one of the tools, black bear populations in California have increased from 10,000 in 1982 to 40,000 in 2021.
And that’s factoring in vastly more people and development that has eaten up their habitat in the last 40 years.
California officials tightly regulate bear hunting with a cap put on harvest annually based on surveys. Last year fewer than 1,000 bears were harvested.
As bear populations have grown in the Golden State, so has the issuance of depredation permits where state officials deem a bear can be terminated due to livestock attacks or dangerous behavior around people.
In 2018 (the last year stats were available), more than 300 depredation permits were issued, which is a full third of the usual harvest in the state. Banning hunting would certainly increase human-bear and livestock-bear conflicts, ending in more killing of bears.
Science should dictate wildlife management, and what California is doing now works.
I love bears.
In Texas, I started Texas Bear Aware, a program that raises awareness of black bears returning to the state in 2007. Through Texas Fish & Game magazine, we have distributed thousands of educational posters and worked with tens of thousands of wildlife class students on bear issues.
And it’s not so we can hunt them.
It will be a long time before these animals are ever at a huntable number in Texas unless some drastic migration happens. And it won’t.
Banning bear hunting where they are flourishing (300,000 in the Lower 48 and 600,000 in North America total) is pointless.
There are real bear issues right now that need looked at around the globe. In America, helping support wildlife overpasses like ones instituted in Colorado and Texas will save their lives.
More importantly, on a global level, species most American’s don’t know to exist are having real problems.
The world’s smallest bear, the sun bear, which lives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia is a prime example.
These bears are listed as “vulnerable” by the IUCN, and there is great concern due to an increased market for their bile.
Traditional medicine adherents use the bile, and while most comes from bile farms where bears are kept in tiny cages and have their bile harvested from them in shocking ways, wild-caught bears replenish those that die (and they do so frequently).
Poachers also kill them for their claws and other parts, and they catch babies to sell as pets.
The sloth bear of India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal has had increasing issues in the human-conflict arena. Supporting education initiatives for the species from groups like Bear Trust International, for example, would do much to help them.
We support these actions and have used our media platforms to raise awareness throughout the world.
There are bears out there that need protecting, but they’re not in California. They need managed, and the current system is doing a great job of that.
No system is perfect, but when wildlife managers follow the North America Model of Conservation that allows hunting as a tool, wildlife flourishes.
And that’s precisely what bears are doing in California.