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Whatever Happened To The Turtleman From Call Of The Wildman?

Animal Planet's "Call of the Wildman" introduced millions of television viewers to the eccentric backwoods expert Ernie Brown Jr., better known as the Turtleman. Brown, accompanied by his friend Neal James, utilized his special brand of hands-on animal capture to remove and relocate nuisance animals throughout his home state of Kentucky. The show was a major hit for Animal Planet alongside shows such as "River Monsters," spanning four seasons between 2011 and 2014. However, it was Brown and the show's methods that eventually got it canceled.

Several instances were uncovered of "Call of the Wildman" staging scenarios and mistreating animals such as the team drugging a zebra, caging a mink for upward of a week, and capturing three orphaned raccoons who died shortly after the show. A production staff member even admitted to collecting animals for the series in an interview with Mother Jones, commenting, "It was part of my job to call around people to trap animals at the direction of Sharp [Entertainment]," with another team member adding, "It's 100 percent fake." 

In 2013, an episode aired showing Brown capturing a white-tailed deer, a species that the Nuisance Wildlife Control Officer (NWCO) prohibited from being captured. He was sent a warning, which led to further investigations regarding Brown's past activities. By the next year, his license was fully revoked after he failed to provide proper documentation for his captures. This, along with a drop in ratings due to the controversy, led to the show's cancellation. Despite this, Turtleman hasn't totally stepped out of the limelight. 

Brown has continued entertaining despite several hardships

While Animal Planet's "Call of the Wildman" ended on unfortunate circumstances, there was no silencing the Turtleman himself. In 2017, Ernie Brown Jr. started a YouTube channel where fans got to see his day-to-day life performing outdoor activities, hanging out with friends, and having fun at home. Starting in 2020, Brown began a series on his YouTube called "Turtleman's Hunt for Bigfoot" which followed him and his friends as they searched for the legendary creature. The web series consisted of ten one-hour-long episodes, with the final coming out in July 2022. 

Sadly, Brown experienced some major losses in the last few years. On February 1, 2019, he lost his best friend and "Wildman" co-star Neal James, who passed away at age 55 from natural causes. In August of the same year, Brown also lost his other friend David Allen "Squirrel" Brady at the age of 58 followed by his loyal dog Lolly in December. 

Brown himself had a near-death experience in March 2022. While trying to cut down a tree, a limb fell down and hit him in the shoulder, briefly leaving him unconscious. He needed to be hospitalized as a result, with severe damage to his arms and chest. Thankfully, despite fan concerns, Brown reported that he would be alright in a Facebook video addressed from his hospital bed. Currently, Brown remains active on Facebook, where he shares updates on his many upcoming meet-and-greet events taking place throughout the South.