Friday, December 30, 2016
Once ranging from Southern Calif across to Arkansas and Louisiana, we are today left with 80 to 100 Ocelots in South Texas...........On private ranch land known as the Yturria Conservation Easement, 4 Ocelot kittens were born in April...........Outside of this easement, there were three more mother Ocelots with kittens at the Laguna Ataxcosa National Wildlife Refuge.............Biologists have renewed optimism that if the wildlife culverts that are being discussed for the highways that run through this region are created, then the rare Ocelot might have a chance at long term persistence in the USA......
Using GPS technology and camera traps, biologists
were thrilled to find rare litters of ocelot kittens
and a den site—the first found for the small wild
cats in a South Texas refuge in nearly two decades.
Hilary Swarts, a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, says the kittens were spotted
in April at two separate locations, though the news
was released just last week.
The researchers detected four ocelot kittens on the
Yturria Conservation Easement, a swath of
owned ranch land that is protected in perpetuity as
a home for wildlife.
“[At the easement], we detected three moms with
litters, and one of those moms had twins, which is
not typical and was incredibly exciting for us,”
And at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife
south of the easement, camera traps revealed three
more mother ocelots with healthy kittens. Seven
known females currently live on the reserve.
“Our seventh female is the one where we actually
found the den site and found the 400-gram—
less than a pound—little boy, who was
breathtaking,” Swarts says.
According to the GPS collar data from the mom,
the site was the second den used for the same
“That is very typical,” Swarts says. “The mom
will have the kitten in one spot and stay there
for two or three weeks before moving them
to another spot for two or three weeks.”
Theories as to why ocelots might move den
sites include evading predators or avoiding
infestation from fleas and ticks.
The news of these adorable kittens is
welcome in South Texas, where biologists
have identified about 50 of the wildcats by
their coat patterns. A statewide estimate
currently falls anywhere between 80 to 100
While the small cats roam throughout South and
Central America, they are considered endangered
in Texas. In the United States, ocelots used to range
as far east as Arkansas and Louisiana, but today
only a small subpopulation lives in the wild in the
Lone Star State, and about 95 percent of their
original habitat has been cleared, Swarts says.
“That clearing means that some of those areas
are fragmented from each other, so to get from
one habitat to another, they have to pass
through human nature,” Swarts says.
“That leads to the other big threat: getting hit
Genetic isolation, which leads to reduced
genetic diversity, is also problematic for
ocelots and brings its own set of issues,
like reduced disease resistance.
Ultimately, though, Swarts is optimistic:
“What was so great with seeing the burst
of kittens this year—though from a
statistical perspective, it is impossible
to say whether there was a bumper crop
or not—[is that] they’re doing their job,
which is to produce more ocelots, and
we have been making some good stride
s as far as reducing threats.”
FEBRUARY 10, 2011
The plan is for chain-link fencing along FM 106 and
State Highway 100 in Willacy County to funnel
ocelots to the underpasses, allowing them to bypass
the highways safely.
Posted by Rick Meril at 8:41 PM