Tag Archives: Bears

Wildlife Wednesday: Monster Black Bear Captured, The Most Dangerous Thing In The Woods, Drugs In Bonefish & More

A monster black bear has been captured and relocated in Tennessee.

A 500-pound black bear living near Tusculum college in Greeneville had become habituated to human and unnatural foods and was relocated to a remote area of the Cherokee National Forest according to officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

Wildlife Sgt. David Carpenter said the bear had regular access to garbage, birdseed, and pet food had and been in the area for a few years but ramped up its activity and property damage last year on the agency’s Facebook page.

Wildlife Officers decided to trap it then due to the increasing potential for negative interaction, but were unsuccessful after the bear changed its travel routine. Recent activity indicated it was back to its old ways and Officers Ryan Rosier, Austin Wilson, and Sgt. Carpenter located the bear in a small vacant wood lot and were able to free-range tranquilize it. They worked the bear up and requested the assistance of the Greeneville Fire Department to help move it to the transport cage due to its size. They were glad to help and were able to use some of their specialized equipment to expedite the process.

Kudos to TWRA officials for the successful relocation of a monster bear and reminding us how big black bears can get.

The Most Dangerous Thing In The Woods

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.

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.

I will be doing a podcast series on this topic. Have you had a crazy human encounter in the woods or on the water?

Email chester@chestermoore.com to share.

Sharing your encounter might help save someone’s life.

Drugs In Bonefish

A three-year study by Florida International University (FIU) and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) has discovered pharmaceutical contaminants in the blood and other tissues of bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys.

“Coastal fisheries face increasing threats associated with human-based contaminants,” said Jim McDuffie, BTT President and CEO.

“Pharmaceuticals are an often overlooked dimension of water quality and their presence in South Florida bonefish is cause for concern. These contaminants pose a significant threat to the flats fishery, an important part of Florida’s recreational saltwater fishery, which has an annual economic impact of $9.2 billion and directly supports 88,500 jobs.”

Since the study began in 2018, FIU scientists and BTT research associates, in partnership with Sweden’s Umeå University and the University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), have sampled 93 fish in South Florida, finding an average of seven pharmaceuticals per bonefish, and a whopping 17 pharmaceuticals in a single fish. The list includes blood pressure medications, antidepressants, prostate treatment medications, antibiotics, and pain relievers. Researchers also found pharmaceuticals in bonefish prey—crabs, shrimp and fish—suggesting that many of Florida’s valuable fisheries are exposed, and not only the bonefish fishery.

At a BTT panel event in Tallahassee, FL, lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Rehage presented the study’s findings.

“These findings are truly alarming,” said Dr. Rehage. “Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat, unlike algal blooms or turbid waters. Yet these results tell us that they are a formidable threat to our fisheries, and highlight the pressing need to address our longstanding wastewater infrastructure issues.”

Approximately 5 billion prescriptions are filled each year in the US, yet there are no environmental regulations for the disposal of pharmaceuticals worldwide.

Pharmaceutical contaminants originate most often from human wastewater and are not sufficiently removed by conventional water treatment. They remain active at low doses, can be released constantly, and exposure can affect all aspects of fish behavior, with negative consequences for their reproduction and survival. Pharmaceutical contaminants have been shown to affect all aspects of the life of fish, including their feeding, activity, sociability, and migratory behavior.

For more information click here.

Arabian Oryx In Israel

We are midway through our 40 days of raising awareness to the wildlife of Israel on our Facebook page.

The beautiful Arabian oryx was eliminate from the Holy Land but in recent years, restoration efforts have helped bring it back to several areas.

We love celebrating great wildlife conservation success stories!

Chester Moore

(Public Domain Photo)

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Science Overrides Emotion On Bear Bill

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.

A sun bear (Public Domain Photo)

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 is truly unique among bears. (Public Domain Photo)

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.

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.

Bear Education Necessities

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.

A large black bear photographed by the author in Estes Park, Co. in August. (Photo by Chester Moore)

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.

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.

Growing Threats To Bear Conservation (Podcast)

Join Chester Moore as he interviews Logan Young, Executive Director of Bear Trust International to discuss the often overlooked topic of global bear conservation.

Listen here.

Topics discussed include the following:

bear_trust_logo

*Bear Trust International’s vision for global bear conservation.

*Addressing bear education needs for school children

*Grizzly hunting ban controversy in Canada

*Overlooked bear species such as the sloth bear of Asia and the spectacled bear of the Andes in South America.

If you have any interest in bears you need to hear this episode.

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.

Texas Bear Expansion-What You Need To Know

Officials with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) have issued a press release noting a dramatic increase in black bear sightings in the Trans-Pecos region of the state.

This comes just a day after our report of a black bear filmed swimming across Lake Falcon several hundred miles away from the Trans-Pecos.

“There has been a flurry of bear activity in the Trans-Pecos recently. Reports of black bears wandering into Fort Davis, Alpine, and Fort Stockton were received this past week on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, respectively,” said Michael Janis, TPWD Trans-Pecos District Leader.

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(Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Black bears are generally shy, reclusive creatures but there comes a point when populations grow when that can change.

There is no hunting pressure in Texas and Mexico so there is no reason to fear people. In these situations, they may begin approaching human habitations and dry conditions like west Texas is facing now will amplify the issue.

My concern is Texans are not bear aware.

To most encountering bears is something that might happen once-in-a-lifetime when they visit Yellowstone or in the Smoky Mountains.

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I first published this photo by Al Weaver in Texas Fish & Game in 2010. This bear was photographed near Bay City, TX on the Middle Coast.

And these Texas bears are not just in the Trans Pecos.

For more than a decade I have recorded sightings in the Hill Country, South Texas, and along the Middle Coast. The East Texas bear population is a different issue and we will touch more on that next week but there are increasing sightings in the eastern third of the state as well.

Texans need to understand a few things about these unexpected inhabitants of its wildlands.

The following is from TPWD.

Bears have an excellent sense of smell and much of their behavior is driven by their appetite. These natural characteristics can, however, become a problem when bears find an easy meal from a human-related source such as garbage, pet food or corn from a deer feeder. If over time a bear continually finds food around humans, it can become habituated, losing its fear of people and creating a potentially dangerous situation.

Fellow hunters, we are now in the off-season. If you have a bear hitting a feeder, a good option is to shut it down and let the bear move on. Feeding in an area might keep the bear around and give you problems with your feeder (they’ll tear it up) or maybe an unwanted up close and personal encounter.

Another option is electricity.

Bears are sensitive to electricity however, so electric fences can be used to prevent bears from accessing feeders while still allowing deer to reach them because of their ability to jump the fence.  Although an added cost, electric fencing can pay for itself in the prevention of lost feed and damage to a feeder.

TPWD biologists say education is the best way to prevent human-bear conflicts

Residents in areas where bears have been spotted should secure anything that could be a potential attractant (e.g. garbage, pet food, bird and deer feeders, etc.). Residents can also choose to invest in bear proof garbage dumpsters, a recourse that many communities in the western U.S. have deployed to reduce or prevent bear encounters. Double-bagging garbage to reduce odors and keeping bags in a secure location until the morning of trash pickup are also encouraged practices. Similarly, TPWD biologists recommend feeding pets inside or limiting pet food portions to an amount that can be consumed completely at each feeding.

Black bears are potentially dangerous animals. And while they are not likely to attack, their ferocity upon attack can be fatal.

In a story in the March/April 2020 edition of Sports Afield, I outlined a surprising study on black bear attack behavior.

A study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management documents 63 people killed in 59 incidents by non-captive black bears between 1900-2009.

Here is the standout quote.

“We judged that the bear involved acted as a predator in 88 percent of fatal incidents. Adult or subadult male bears were involved in 92 percent of fatal predatory incidents, reflecting biological and behavioral differences between male and female bears. That most fatal black bear attacks were predatory and were carried out by one bear shows that females with young are not the most dangerous black bears.”

There are a couple of things that should jump out at outdoor lovers here.

  1. If you are attacked by a black bear you must fight back. While many grizzly attacks are territorial or perhaps because the grizzly didn’t like you way you looked that day, most black bear attacks are predatory and nearly all of the fatal ones are. Play dead for grizzlies. Fight like crazy against a black bear.
  2. Big male bears are the biggest threat. If you see one in an area or have game camera photos of one, take extra precautions.

Black bears are protected in Texas, so hunters should keep that in mind and especially when hunting hogs in areas with bear sightings at night. A bear could easily look like a hog hitting a bait pile especially if you are using night vision or thermal imaging.

Black bears returning to Texas is exciting but everyone needs to stay informed. I will continue coverage here as the great American bear returns to the Lone Star State and shows up in places where few expect to see them.

(TPWD is requesting bear sighting information. Click here to find a biologist in your area. Email chester@chestermoore.com to send bear photos and videos.)

Chester Moore