Target: James M. Bass, Executive Director, Texas Department of Transportation
Goal: Praise agency for taking action to protect endangered ocelots from car-related deaths.
Reacting to the mounting numbers of endangered ocelot deaths on Texas roadways, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently took action to address this troubling issue. Long coming under fire for building an impassable concrete barrier down the center of a roadway bordering a wildlife preserve, TxDOT heard the critics and vowed to overcome the problem. Heeding wildlife experts’ recommendations, TxDOT created a series of wildlife underpasses in the ocelots’ habitat area. These underpasses allow the animals to cross roadways safely, away from the threat of speeding cars.
TxDOT’s ecologically conscious upgrade to the highway system couldn’t have come at a better time for the ocelots. Less than 100 of these endangered animals remain in the Laguna Atacosa Wildlife Refuge, a preserve bordered by one of the formerly impassable highways. Though the ocelot species is distributed over a wide range, the subspecies that inhabits Texas and Mexico is critically endangered and under constant threat of extinction, with less than a thousand remaining in total. Moreover, all ocelot populations are threatened and seeing their numbers reduced, regardless of their geographic range.
Human impacts are largely responsible for the species’ declining numbers. These include habitat destruction caused by development, illegal poaching and trapping, and deaths from car accidents. A multi-faceted approach to ocelot conservation is needed to address all of these potential impacts, and TxDOT’s wildlife corridors implementation thoroughly addresses one particularly heinous facet.
Thanks to the underground passages implemented by the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas roadways will now be safer for ocelots attempting to cross highways. Commend the agency for taking action to help these precious animals.
Dear Mr. Bass,
As you know, death statistics for ocelots on Texas roadways are deeply troubling, having risen dramatically in recent years. Many have called on the Texas Department of Transportation to take drastic action to protect these imperiled creatures from additional harm. Recently, TxDOT did just that by creating underpasses for ocelots’ safe passage under roadways.
We, the undersigned, would like to commend your agency for bowing to public opinion and taking this desperately needed action. The wildlife corridors created by TxDOT have created a safe passage for ocelots that would otherwise be placed directly in harm’s way. Thank you for giving this serious matter your attention.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: João Carlos Medau