Hello, I’m Shari Wilcox, Texas
Representative with Defenders of Wildlife. Today I’m at Laguna Atascosa
National Wildlife Refuge in South Texas and we’re kicking off ocelot research
for the winter season. Come join us! The ooelot is a small, spotted wildcat whose historic range includes most of Texas and portions of Louisiana, New Mexico, and Arizona. Today less than 50 cats remain in the United States. The ocelot monitoring program at Laguna Atascosa takes place each fall, winter, and early spring, when the weather is temperate enough for humane trapping. Each year refuge staff attempt to trap and radio collar 5-10 ocelots so biologists can monitor the cat’s movements and learn more about their habitat needs, movements, health, breeding, and life history. During trapping season humane cages are carefully sited in areas frequented by the cats and camouflaged in thornscrub brush. The biologists use a number of attractants or lures the may entice the cats to step inside the cages. This includes objects that look an awful lot like cat toys. Fashioned by staff, these bits of feather, fur, and baubles move in the wind and catch the light hopefully
inspiring the cats to explore the traps. These traps are specially designed so
that the cats are in no way harmed. Teams follow rigorous protocol to ensure the cats are examined, collared and released as quickly as possible to minimize stress. Just two weeks into the start of the trapping season the ocelot team has had a banner week. The ocelot known on the refuge as OM-342 was captured mid-November and outfitted with a VHF collar for tracking. The Fish & Wildlife team
reports that at nearly 13 pounds he was estimated to be at a little over a year old and appeared to be in great condition. The team also trapped ocelot OM-341. A big, beautiful adult male weighing in at nearly 29 pounds, he is estimated to be four years old and looked to be in excellent condition. He was outfitted with a GPS collar, which was already checked in via cellular network to show the ocelot monitoring team he has been moving about the refuge in the areas which he’s been previously photographed and trapped. Just a few weeks into the 2019-2020 trapping season we are looking to be in very good
shape for the ocelot monitoring program at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge.