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Texas Has Become The Only State Where Ocelots Are Found Since The Spotted Felines Are Facing Threats Of Habitat Loss, Trapping, And Poisoning

Leonardo - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual ocelot

Three years ago, a male ocelot was found dead in Hidalgo County, Texas. After conducting DNA tests on the deceased cat, wildlife officials discovered that the spotted felines might be expanding their range in southern Texas.

Ocelots once inhabited regions in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona. But now, Texas has become the only place where ocelots are found.

Over the last couple of centuries, their numbers have dwindled due to habitat loss, trapping, and poisoning.

Since 1972, ocelots have been listed as federally endangered in the United States. There are about 100 wild cats remaining in a small coastal region of southern Texas.

However, new DNA evidence has indicated that ocelots might be expanding their territory.

In 2021, an ocelot was hit and killed by a vehicle on a highway in Hidalgo County, which was about 50 miles from their known range.

This year, DNA samples from the cat were finally tested, revealing that it was related to the wild ocelots native to the U.S.-Mexico borderlands region.

According to Dr. Tom deMaar, a wildlife veterinarian and board member for the Friends of Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, it is the first time that an ocelot has been found outside its range.

Until now, researchers thought that ocelot populations were restricted to two areas in Texas—the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in Cameron County and private land in Willacy County.

Leonardo – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual ocelot

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