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Houston Chronicle, January 13, 2014

Big plans could bring small wild cat back to Texas
By Matthew Tresaugue


Nearly 30 years after the jaguarundi was last seen in South Texas, the federal government has a plan to return the small cat to its historic range in the state.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently said it plans to reintroduce the endangered species, which is slightly larger than a household cat, to the Rio Grande Valley, with the goal of creating a stable population of at least 500 jaguarundis by 2050.

The plan addresses a range of threats to the cat, including border fencing, roads, competition with other species and climate change.

The federal agency said the last confirmed sighting of the species within Texas was is April 1986, when a dead cat was collected near Brownsville.

The closest known jaguarundi to Texas is in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, about 100 miles southwest of the border, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

The agency developed the recovery plan as part of a legal agreement with WildEarth Guardians, an advocacy group based in Santa Fe, N.M.

"Returning jaguarundis to the thickets and grasslands of the Rio Grande Valley to hunt for rodents and reptiles could help protect these fascinating and little-studied animals from extinction," said Michael Robinson, an advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson, Ariz.-based group.


© Copyright 2014 Hearst Newspapers, LLC.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton