Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge announced today the sighting of a new male ocelot on the refuge, as captured by camera trap photos. The young male, being identified as OM344, was first detected by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) remote cameras on March 29. According to FWS Ocelot Biologist Dr. Hilary Swarts, “within a couple of months of the initial detection, he was captured on camera well enough to be given a unique identifier (OM344) and added to our population count as a known individual.”
See here for photos of OM344 from Viva the Ocelot, Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
Dr. Sharon Wilcox, Texas representative for Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:
“The sighting of a new ocelot at Laguna Atascosa is major news for the species. With only 13 other recorded individuals documented living at the refuge, the addition of another young male is certainly cause for celebration.
“The ocelot is under threat, and its recovery in the United States faces significant challenges due to habitat loss and vehicle strikes while crossing roads. Defenders of Wildlife will continue to work to protect this majestic wild cat.”
- With a total U.S. population of fewer than 60 individuals, the ocelot is predicted by the FWS’s Recovery Plan to disappear from Texas within 40 years unless there are dramatic efforts to expand its habitat and decrease mortality.
- Defenders of Wildlife, along with the Sierra Club, recently filed lawsuits challenging the FWS’ approval of the massive Annova LNG and Rio Grande LNG fracked gas export terminals proposed for southern Texas. These projects threaten to contribute to the extinction of the endangered ocelot in the U.S.