Caution – Crossing Ocelots

HARLINGEN — South Texas used to abound with dense chaparral, but development and land-clearing for agriculture has reduced the available scrub thorn to the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge and pockets of land in Willacy and Kenedy counties.

There are few, if any, safe corridors for ocelots to cross the 15 miles which separate the refuge and those areas.

Four ocelots have been killed by vehicles in a three-county area in South Texas this year, federal officials said yesterday.

All of the ocelots killed in 2016 were young males. Since last June, seven ocelots — six males and a female — are known to have perished under the wheels of vehicles.

Three of the ocelot deaths in the past year occurred on FM 186 in Willacy County; one occurred on Highway 100 in Cameron County; one occurred on FM 2925 just west of Arroyo City; one on I-69 East just inside Kenedy County; and the other ocelot fatality occurred on Buena Vista Road in Cameron County.

Federal officials noted efforts are being made to reduce ocelot-vehicle interactions, primarily by adding wildlife underpasses to let ocelots cross roads safely.

Construction of wildlife underpasses has begun on FM 106, also known as General Brant Road, which borders and runs through the refuge and is currently being upgraded.

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