Wildlife officials ask motorists to be cautious following Ocelot death

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

POSTED: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 5:28pm

UPDATED: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 11:38am

A sad day in Cameron County as an ocelot was found on Highway 100 on November 7th between Los Fresnos and Laguna Vista. Wildlife officials say the ocelot was hit by a vehicle.

"The individual was 4 1/2 years old, the kind of the time they are coming into their adulthood, so he was probably out their trying to establish his territory, and where he was going to be."said Wildlife Biologist Hilary Swarts.
This was one of 14 ocelots wearing a special GPS collar. The collar was put on the ocelot back in April, and wildlife officials were able to track his movement.

"He went up to Arroyo City, He went up to Rio Hondo."said Swarts.

Refuge manager Boyd Blihovde says this tragedy is a major loss for the wildlife community.

"We understand at the refugee that are so rare, and we want people in the public they are rare as well, this is realistically the only place in the United States were ocelots occur."said Blihovde.

Blihovde says that number one cause of death for ocelots in Lower Rio Grande Valley is vehicular accidents, and he is trying to reduce that number.

"We hope people are cautious when they drive through ocelot habitat and drive at a slow speed, the other thing we hope to do is partner with the Texas Department of Transportation to get wildlife crossings and ocelots crossings on roads in this area, so we don't have vehicle collision and ocelots die in the future."said Blihovde.

There have also been changes made at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge to protect the ocelots and other animals. Public vehicles are no longer allowed to drive on Bayside Drive.

"We have actually had 2 cats get hit on Bayside Drive at the refuge in the recent years so we decided we needed to close bayside Drive for public vehicles, you can still come out and hike and bike, and we also offer tours to the public."said Blihovde

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