Nature

Texas Refuge to Build $8M Project Aimed to Save Ocelots

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The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is located along the southern coast of Texas, near South Padre Island. According to their website, the refuge spans over 97,000 acres and was established in 1946, mainly to provide a safe area for wintering birds. The area is still known as a popular bird-watching go-to, but it’s also become home to an effort to conserve the dwindling population of ocelots.

As the largest home to ocelots in the United States, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge wants to increase safety for the big cats. Click2Houston writes that “12 underground corridors are being installed beneath two roads where 40 percent of the rare cats have been killed by traffic.”

These corridors will cost roughly $8 million to construct, but with only 80 ocelots left in the state, officials say it will be well worth it.

Some wonder, who will the creatures know where to cross through? Hilary Swarts, a USFWS wildlife biologist, told Click2Houston that the are appealing to the animal’s instincts by making the holes “large enough for the ocelots to clearly see what’s on the other side.”

Fencing will also be installed along SH 100, and hopefully, soon, ocelots and humans can share the area harmoniously.