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 Larry Ditto

WILDLIFE

Ocelots Using Wildlife Crossing

You may recall our October 2018 article (“How Did the Wildlife Cross the Road?”) on wildlife crossings, which featured the plight of ocelots in South Texas. In a 10-month span, seven ocelots were killed by cars there, a significant statistic because there are only 80-100 ocelots left in Texas.

In response, the Texas Department of Transportation built 15 wildlife underpasses around Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in South Texas. The crossings on Texas Highway 100 were completed in 2017; construction on several others around the refuge wrapped up last July. The crossings are basically concrete culverts under the road.

TxDOT also installed fencing, a key component of effective wildlife crossings, along Highway 100 to funnel animals toward the crossings.

The question remained: Would ocelots use them?

And now we hear that there’s success, as proved by photo evidence earlier this year, when an ocelot using one of those crossings was caught on camera. The 5-year-old male, known as OM 331, used the crossing under FM 106 to cross from north to south.

Other animals, such as armadillos, javelinas, bobcats, long-tailed weasels, alligators and tortoises have used the underpasses, but officials say this is the first documented use of an ocelot using an underpass crossing in the United States.

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