Nature Report: Ocelot Killed at Animal Sanctuary
Monday, October 26, 2009 at 9:16 a.m.
RIO HONDO, TEXAS -- The Rio Grande Valley is the only place in the United States where you can find the endangered ocelot.
The valley's dwindling population recently suffered a crucial loss in the wildcat's most important sanctuary.
The endangered ocelot is perhaps the rarest cat in the United States, and less than 50 are estimated to remain in the thick brush land of deep South Texas.
Tragically, there is one less since a recent road kill at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge east of Rio Hondo.
Refuge manager Sonny Perez said a visitor discovered the body of a female ocelot along the refuge's popular Bayside Drive on Sunday, October 18.
"With the investigation we have so far, it appears it was road kill related," said Perez. "We found it within a 24 hour time frame."
Even with the presence of speed bumps, posted speed limit signs of 25 mph and ocelot crossing warning signs, visitors are encouraged to be extra cautious.
"Please observe the speed limits. Also, so you know, wildlife species are active all throughout the day, and there are many other wildlife species out here besides the endangered ocelot."
Ocelots prefer to dwell in dense brush, and these remaining pockets of habitat are often separated by busy roads the cats must cross.
Vehicle strikes are considered the number one cause of death for the rare cats.
"This particular cat was not one that we have documented or recorded previously, as extensive as the amount of research we have done in this area, we had not picked up this individual, so there is still hope even though we have lost this one from our population."
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org