Target: Congressman Filemon Vela, Texas’ 34th District representative
Goal: To urge elected officials to preserve Texas’ few remaining wild ocelots
The current population of wild ocelots in the United States is thought to be around only 50 animals, down from 100 in 2004. The ocelots’ population decline is attributed to massive loss of habitat in southern Texas. The survival of these amazing wild cats depends on the cooperation of elected officials, landowners and conservation groups.
Initial steps have been taken to save these ocelots, with some non-profit and government groups already working together to protect shrinking habitats. A recent National Geographic article stated that “95 percent of the cats’ native habitat in the U.S. has been converted to agriculture or become urban sprawl.” With so much of the the animals’ natural habitat now privately owned it is imperative that more landowners support the struggle to save the ocelot.
There have been other commendable efforts, but they require additional congressional support in order to ensure the species’ survival. Several ocelots have recently been struck and killed by vehicles. To address this the Texas Department of Transportation is constructing eight underpasses as wild ocelot crossings. Non-profit groups like the Environmental Defense Fund have helped broker agreements between landowners and conservationists to keep the species from disappearing from Texas. Researchers from Texas A&M University have worked closely with agencies like Texas Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop incentives for landowners that agree to help protect the ocelots’ shrinking habitat.
With so few wild ocelots left in the United States it is crucial that elected representatives use their influence to urge ranchers and landowners to protect these cats’ habitat. Congressman Vela of the 34th Congressional District not only represents the region, but also has a seat on the House Agriculture Committee. Call on him to use this power and influence to rally ranchers, farmers and other landowners to help save the last wild ocelots.
Dear Congressman Vela,
The last surviving ocelots in the United States–including some that live in your district– are currently in danger. Cameron County and some of the surrounding regions have seen ocelot populations shrink drastically, with only 50 animals now left in the wild. Despite the efforts of several groups to halt this decline, the major deterrent to the survival of these amazing wild cats is lack cooperation from private landowners.
Collaboration between farm and ranch owners, politicians and conservationists can truly make a difference. This cooperation is possible and in many cases already happening. Groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and agencies like Texas Parks and Wildlife have already provided some incentives for landowners to work together to save the ocelot, and their efforts need and deserve your congressional support.
To see the last few wild ocelots disappear from the United States would be a great tragedy. You have the power to influence, inform and educate the landowners of your district to help save these wild cats. You also have a duty as a public official to look out for the long-term health of your state, including by supporting crucial conservation efforts. As an active member of the House Agriculture Committee and the Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit I urge you to use your influence to support these and other efforts to save the ocelots’ vital habitat.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tom Smylie via US Fish & Wildlife Service