Feline researcher Jenifer Korn carefully removes a sedated bobcat from a live trap on the Yturria ranch just north of Raymondville.
Biologists with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville are studying both bobcats and endangered ocelots on the Willacy County Ranch.
Dr. Mike Tewes, Regents Professor at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, said, "We have a bobcat study here in Willacy County to look at the competition of bobcats with ocelots."
Bobcats are common throughout Texas and occur in virtually every county in the state, but there are estimated to be no more than 80 ocelots remaining in the thick brush of Deep South Texas.
While their range overlaps, ocelots depend on extremely dense thickets of brush and bobcats are more adaptable utilizing a variety of habitats.
"We have found that bobcats and ocelots can coexist pretty well together and so far we have not found major competition between the two cat species," said Tewes.
Researches have captured two bobcats this day and will affix GPS tracking collars to both. While the first has a normal mostly solid brownish coat pattern, the second bobcats fur resembles an ocelots.
Tewes said, "Most bobcats have a pretty solid brown coat pattern, and then some of them have black spots or even circles on their coats, but about one out of every ten seems to have spots very similar to ocelots, rosettes that are very difficult to distinguish from an ocelots."
While there is no evidence of interbreeding between bobcats and ocelots, it is fascinating how striking the similarities are in the coats of some ten percent of bobcats to the rare ocelots.