Second Young Ocelot Discovered at Refuge
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, in Cameron County, Texas, recently identified a previously unknown ocelot. It was discovered in a photograph from mid-December from one of the motion triggered cameras the refuge uses to monitor these critically endangered wild cats. The juvenile was first photographed climbing a tree behind its mother and then walking next to her in the subsequent series of photos. The ocelot’s gender is still not known, but it is estimated to be 8-12 months old and appears to be in good health.
The new juvenile increases the known population of ocelots on the refuge to 13. There are only two known breeding populations of ocelots remaining in the United States, this one in Cameron County and another in Willacy County, which has 34 known ocelots. Biologists do not have evidence that these two isolated populations currently interact, which leads to concerns about inbreeding. The success of ocelot recovery depends, in part, on reconnecting habitat between these two populations.
Ocelots require dense thornscrub habitat. Private landowners play an important role in ocelot conservation by partnering with the US Fish and Wildlife Service through conservation easements. Land in a conservation easement remains in the landowner’s hands, but protects habitat for the endangered ocelot and other species that need thornscrub, such as green jays and Texas indigo snakes. If landowners are interested in learning more about conservation easements, they can contact Refuge Manager, Boyd Blihovde, at 956-748-3608.
The public plays an important role in keeping this endangered wild cat in the Rio Grande Valley through awareness, land management, and reporting sightings. The public is encouraged to report any possible sightings of live or dead ocelots to the refuge by calling 956-748-3608, or after hours 956-784-7520. To learn more about ocelots in south Texas, visit the refuge’s website www.fws.gov/refuge/laguna_atascosa.
Join the US Fish and Wildlife Service in celebrating the beautiful ocelot of the Rio Grande Valley! A live ocelot will be featured in several public events the first week of March.
A seminar style, free event will be held at the University of Texas Pan American Ballroom in Edinburg on March 6 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. This event is geared toward an adult audience and will feature several speakers who will address ocelots and the issues they face. The Texas Department of Transportation will discuss transportation and wildlife crossings. Dr. Michael Tewes, Regents Professor and Research Scientist at Texas A & M Kingsville, will discuss his work with ocelots in Willacy County. Dr. Hilary Swarts, Wildlife Biologist at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, will discuss the status of and issues facing ocelots in Cameron County. The event will culminate with an appearance of a live ocelot and it’s trainers from the Cincinnati Zoo.
On the evening of March 6, the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge will hold their annual Ocelot Soiree at the Casa Mariposa on South Padre Island. Activities include music, heavy appetizers, drinks, a live auction of ocelot inspired art, and exhibits and a presentation about ocelots by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The live ocelot will also make an appearance. Tickets are available by contacting the Friends at 956-832-3905.
March 7 is Cameron County’s official “Ocelot Conservation Day”. An event for families will be offered March 7, from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the South Texas Discovery Center at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville. Fun activities for kids include facepainting and ocelot masks and magnets. There will be a variety of information tables and displays featuring ocelot conservation. Live ocelot shows will be presented throughout the day. The event is free, however, Zoo admission applies ($2 off for adults).
In the United States, ocelots were originally found throughout Texas and into Arkansas and Louisiana. Today, fewer than 80 of these native wild cats are estimated to be left in the U.S., all of which are found deep in South Texas. The loss of dense forest habitat and getting hit by cars are the greatest threats to their long-term survival. For more information call the Laguna Atascosa Visitor Center at 956-748-3607 ext.111 or visit the website at www.fws.gov/refuge/laguna_atascosa. For more information about Gladys Porter Zoo, please visit www.gpz.org.
Ocelot Conservation Day Events
Events & Announcements
January – March 2015 Programs at the Refuge
Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge
22688 Buena Vista Blvd., Los Fresnos, TX 78566
Visitor Center & Friends Nature Store – Open Daily
956-748-3607 or 3608 ext 111
Habitat Tours of the Bayside Drive
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays
9 – 12 and 1 – 4
Enjoy a guided tour through the habitats of the refuge including thornscrub forest, coastal prairie, wetlands and the scenic Laguna Madre in our open-air tram (enclosed bus will be used if inclement weather). Discover the history of the refuge – both natural and cultural, see how lands are being managed for wildlife, and view the special wildlife that call deep south Texas home. Binoculars recommended. There will be 2-3 stops with short, optional walks. Tickets CASH or CHECK ONLY $4 for adults (16+), $3 seniors (62+), under 16 free. Tickets sold day of tour, first-come, first-served. Call 956-748-3607 or 3608 ext 111 for more information. This vehicle is wheelchair accessible. Group tours available Mon. – Wed. with reservation.
Thursdays – Mondays
8:30 am – 12 pm
Friday – 4:30.
Experienced birders will take you in a van to refuge birding hot spots where private vehicles are not allowed. Tours alternate between Laguna Atascosa and Bahia Grande areas. Call 956-748-3607 or 3608 ext. 111 to make your reservation. $4 for adults (16+), $3 seniors (62+), under 16 free.
Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday
2 pm – 3 pm
Discover some of south Texas’ specialty birds on a short, easy walk around the visitor center. Wheelchair accessible. FREE.
Boy Scout Workshop – Naturalist
Saturday, March 28
9:30 am- 12 pm
Webelos are invited to register for this workshop which will help them meet the requirements for the Naturalist Badge. Call the Ranger at 956-748-3608 ext 119 to register.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to providing access for all participants. Please direct all requests for sign language interpreting services, close captioning, or other accommodation needs to Marion Mason, email@example.com, TTY 800-877-8339 with your request by 4 pm 2 weeks before the event.