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"Protect our cats"
Galveston County Daily News, November 30, 2013

As someone who worked with carnivores at the Houston Zoo, I’m so saddened to hear about the auto collision that turned an endangered ocelot into highway road kill (“Endangered Ocelot killed in auto collision,” Associated Press, Nov. 19). With only 50 ocelots remaining in the country, all in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, losing this one male ocelot is very painful.

As stated in the story, there are not many ocelots left in the United States. They were once hunted as “unwanted” predators and for their beautiful, creamy, chain-like spotted fur. Yet, they managed to survive, thanks in a large part to protection under the Endangered Species Act, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary and to date has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the more than 1,400 species it protects.

With hunting now prohibited, roads are an ever present threat to wildlife and one of the biggest threats to the ocelot.

With such few animals, losing even one individual comes at a huge expense to the entire population. We are fortunate to have these beautiful cats in Texas and need to do more to ensure their survival.

Joanie Steinhaus
Galveston, Texas

© Copyright 2013 Galveston Newspapers Inc.

This article originally appeared here.


"Endangered species"
The Houston Chronicle, October 27, 2013

Re: "Can lesser prairie chicken and oil coexist?" (Page B1, Thursday), by endorsing a "voluntary" conservation plan for the lesser prairie chicken, the federal officials charged with protecting our nation's most imperiled plants and animals are doing a better job of protecting the interests of developers and extraction industries than the lesser prairie chicken, which has already lost more than 89 percent of its historic habitat to development.

The problem: The voluntary conservation plans are not only unenforceable but Texas officials insist they're not even public records, which means the very federal officials responsible for enforcing the plan can't make sure the volunteers are keeping their promises.

That's all very bad news for the lesser prairie chicken, whose numbers dropped by more than 50 percent just last year, according to a report released last month. So what's the answer?

It's called the Endangered Species Act. Over the course of 40 years, it has prevented the extinction of 99 percent of the plants and animals it protects. In the process, it's also protected millions of acres of habitat critical to the ongoing health of the planet we all depend on for everything from food and water to the jobs that keep our economy healthy and sustainable over the long haul.

Carolyn Mata
Houston, Texas

Copyright © 2013 The Hearst Corporation.

This article originally appeared here.