Visitor Counter

hitwebcounter web counter
Visitors Since Blog Created in March 2010

Click Below to:

Add Blog to Favorites

Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

Subscribe via email to get updates

Enter your email address:

Receive New Posting Alerts

(A Maximum of One Alert Per Day)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Ocelots inhabit the USA, Mexico and every country south of it except Chile...............As we have Posted previously, the last ones left in the United States—an estimated 50 individuals, (down from about a hundred a decade ago)—live in two separate populations in and around Laguna Atascosa and on private land in neighboring Willacy County,Texas............From time to time a straggler has also shown up in Arizona and New Mexico..................At the dawn of the 19th century as Europeans began intense colonization of these regions, Ocelots ranged across Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona................As with all of our Carnivores, cars and roadways account for a significant number of Ocelot deaths yearly with habitat loss and fragmentation squeezing the Ocelots to death......................This year the Texas Department of Transportation plans to install the state's first highway wildlife crossings for ocelots.............. Eight underpasses, at a cost of $1.4 million, will be incorporated into the expansion of Highway 106.........Simultaneously, Texas is looking to infuse new genes into it's population by recruiting "cats' from Mexico......................A good start this is with "room to roam" the key determinant of long term persistence-----The Fish and Wildlife Service says it wants to buy land or secure easements to create habitat corridors.............. But to date the agency has purchased only about 100,000 of the estimated one million acres (405,000 hectares) of habitat the cats need to recover..................... In Texas, which is 95 percent privately owned, landowner incentives to restore ocelot habitat may offer the best hope to conserve the species.

Photo of an ocelot, Leopardus pardalis, at the Omaha Zoo.
Ocelots are wild cats that can be found in South America, Central
 America, and the U.S.
Elaine Robbins
Last November in Texas, a feline
 twice the size of a house cat was
struck dead on State Highway 100,
 just south of Laguna Atascosa 
National Wildlife Refuge in the
Rio Grande Valley.
Leo Gustafson, the refuge's assistant
 manager, went out to inspect the corpse.
 He soon found himself gazing at the cat's
beautiful tawny coat, covered with spots,
 bars, and splotches—the perfect camouflage
 for a thorn-scrub habitat of sun and shade.
 But the pattern had proved useless as the
 ocelot tried to cross the four-lane divided
Gustafson noted the thick radio collar
around the cat's neck and recognized
 the individual as the four-and-a-half-year
-old male that refuge staff had been tracking
. Over the past few months, they had
 watched with trepidation as he crisscrossed
a patchwork of cotton fields and convenience
 stores, culverts and roadways, seeking to
 establish a territory and find a mate.
"It's tragic, really," said refuge manager Boyd
 Blihovde. "Ocelots are so beautiful and so
 rare, and to lose so many of these animals
to vehicular collision just seems senseless."
The death of the cat wildlife biologists knew
 as OM276 (OM stands for "ocelot male")
 also brought the species one step closer
to extinction in the United States.
Ocelots still inhabit Mexico and every country
 south of it except Chile. But the last ones left
 in the United States—an estimated 50
individuals, down from about a hundred a
 decade ago—live in two separate populations
 in and around Laguna Atascosa and on private
 land in neighboring Willacy County.
This is the species' last foothold in a territory
 that once included Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas,
 and Arizona. (Five ocelots have been sighted
in Arizona in the past five years, but researchers
say the possibility of a breeding population there
 is highly unlikely.)
An Unfriendly Environment
The number one cause of ocelot deaths in the
 U.S. today is vehicular. Six of the 14 cats tracked
 with radio telemetry by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and Laguna Atascosa biologists have
 been killed by vehicles. As Blihovde puts it,
"Wildcats and highways don't mix."
Yet cars and trucks aren't an ocelot's biggest
 foe. Habitat loss and fragmentation are.
Some 95 percent of the cats' native habitat in
 the U.S. has been converted to agriculture or
 become urban sprawl. In the Rio Grande
Valley—a border area that's one of the
 nation's fastest growing regions—young
males like OM276 that venture outside the
 refuge must navigate a dangerous man-made
Cause for Hope?
Now, after decades of inaction, some recovery
 measures are finally under way.
This year the Texas Department of Transportation
 plans to install the state's first highway wildlife
 crossings for ocelots. Eight underpasses, at a
 cost of $1.4 million, will be incorporated into the
expansion of Highway 106.
Such crossings, accompanied by highway
 fencing, have proved successful elsewhere
in the U.S. In the 1980s, for instance, when
Interstate 75 (aka Alligator Alley) was
 widened though the Everglades, Florida
 invested $20 million to build 23 crossings.
Today the state's endangered panther
population, which numbered no more than
50 in the mid-1990s, has bounced back to
 an estimated 160.
Mountain lions (another name for the panther)
 imported from Texas helped the Florida
 panther recover by introducing genetic
variability. So it's only fitting that Texas
ocelots may soon receive their own new
pair of genes.
Researchers from the ocelot "translocation"
 team—which includes theU.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service and various universities
and institutions in the United States and
 Mexico—plan to appeal to the Mexican
 government for permission to import
 breeding-age females from Tamaulipas,
 Mexico, where an estimated thousand
ocelots live.
Ocelots Need Room to Roam
Ultimately, the ocelot's recovery depends
 on finding enough room for the population
 to expand.
The Fish and Wildlife Service says it wants
 to buy land or secure easements to create
 habitat corridors. But to date the agency
 has purchased only about 100,000 of the
 estimated one million acres (405,000
hectares) of habitat the cats need to recover.
 In Texas, which is 95 percent privately owned,
landowner incentives to restore ocelot habitat
 may offer the best hope to conserve the species.
In the face of such grim realities, each new
 ocelot birth is significant. So on February 14,
 when a juvenile never seen before took a
selfie with one of the refuge's wildlife trip 
cameras, Laguna Atascosa staff felt like they'd
received a valentine.
When wildlife biologist Hilary Swarts tracked
 and radio-collared the animal a few weeks later,
she confirmed that it was a 10- to 12-month-old
 juvenile female. Then in late April, another new
 juvenile, a 12- to 14-month-old male, was
 discovered on the refuge.
Two new kids on the block are hardly enough
 to pull the species back from the brink. But for
an imperiled species like the ocelot, every kitten
 is a sign of hope—and a step in the right direction.

No comments: