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Ocelots Counted In Texas
February 13, 2012Posted by on
From November 2009 to February 2010, researchers used paired camera traps to photograph ocelots Leopardus pardalis in Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge (LANWR) and the surrounding area. Eleven adult ocelots (8 male and 3 female) and two kittens were photographed. One adult female and one adult male, previously unknown to this population, were documented, as well as an adult male that had not been documented in four years.
The current study and resulting population estimate builds on a long-term monitoring and research program conducted by the US Fish & Wildlife Service between April 2007 and October 2009. Eight ocelots (six males, two females) were documented during that period. One of the two identified females, known to be at least 13 years old, was found to have a large growth in her uterus and was determined to be non-reproductive. Biologists had significant concerns that if the only known reproductive female in the population died, the males might disperse in search of mates, thus negatively impacting the population. Therefore, a focused effort to survey for additional ocelots, particularly females, was designed to provide a more thorough and scientific population assessment than had ever been conducted for this population.
To reduce roadway mortality, the USFWS is working with the Texas Department of Transportation and other partners to identify high risk areas and install wildlife road crossings.
As part of a long-term ocelot recovery effort, US Fish & Wildlife continues to increase available habitat through acquisition and restoration while acting to minimize the threats such as traffic-caused moralities.
To initiate efforts to translocate ocelots into Texas populations, the Ocelot Recovery Team formed a Translocation Sub-committee in 2008 that created a plan outlining the justification, methods and benefits for the translocation of these small cats from Tamaulipas, Mexico to populations in Texas.
This survey provides the first comprehensive, systematic population estimate for ocelots in and around LANWR in southern Texas. The USFWS is committed to continuing such long-term monitoring and research in collaboration with partners to better protect ocelot populations and to advance recover of this species in the USA and northern Mexico.
Source: M.A. Sternberg and J.L. Mays, IUCN/SSC Cat News Autumn 2011