This rare sighting reiterates what a treasure LANWR is to South Texas and how important this area of public land is for ocelot habitation.
Two ocelots have been spotted at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
A mother and kitten were seen running across the road at the refuge by a couple visiting the LANWR. Jack Strouf was able to capture pictures of the rare sighting Feb. 17, LANWR said in a new release.
According to LANWR, it was a rare opportunity since the ocelots stay hidden during the day and come out at night.
“The images of the ocelot family crossing the road are a powerful reminder that drivers must slow down and stay aware when traveling through Ocelot Country in South Texas,” said Sharon Wilcox, senior Texas representative for Defenders of Wildlife. “Vehicular collisions are the leading known cause of death for ocelots in Texas. Driver awareness and the construction of wildlife crossings to ensure safe passage for the cats can help to ensure the survival of these cats in Texas.”
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, half of the ocelot deaths over the past 20 years have been due to the cats being struck by vehicles while crossing roads.
The sighting came two weeks before Ocelot Conservation Day will be held at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville.
The ocelot breeding population is low at about 60 to 80 ocelots, officials said.
The LANWR is the only public refuge for the endangered wild cats, although some ocelots have been spotted on private land.
According to Recover Texas Ocelots, for ocelots to be removed from the endangered list the population of the ocelots must be at least 200 for a period of 10 years.
“This rare sighting reiterates what a treasure LANWR is to South Texas and how important this area of public land is for ocelot habitation,” said Nicole Ekstrom, executive director of the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.
The public will have a chance to see an ocelot March 5 at the GPZ during Ocelot Conservation Day.
Leelou, the zoo’s first resident ocelot, will be at the event, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ocelot Conservation Day is sponsored by U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and Defenders of Wildlife.
The event is free with paid zoo membership. There will fun ocelot-related activities for families.
On the day of the event, Defenders of Wildlife will cover the cost of zoo entry for the first 250 children.