Selecting the Reintroduction Site
The partners planned to reintroduce ocelots to a portion of their historical—but now unoccupied—range in Texas. The site selection process required a thoughtful assessment of the ecological and socio-political suitability of potential ocelot habitat areas in Texas, and, from this effort, a habitat patch in Jim Hogg and Starr counties in the Tamaulipan Thornscrub ecoregion of South Texas was chosen as the ocelot reintroduction site. 
The reintroduction site has over 400 square kilometers of highly suitable woody cover used by ocelots and the known presence of ocelot prey animals. It is also remote enough to avoid potential threats to ocelots, including human development, high-traffic roadways, and potential storm surges from hurricanes. Over 30 percent of the identified habitat is owned by project partner the East Foundation, and the remainder of the habitat exists on other privately owned ranchlands. 
To evaluate strategies for establishing a new and viable ocelot population and to inform reintroduction plans, the partners developed a demographic population model of ocelot reintroduction at the selected reintroduction site. This model found that establishing a new ocelot population will require a long-term and dedicated effort that will only be possible with the support of all involved partners. Scientific publications outlining the habitat assessment and modeling efforts are forthcoming.
Breeding Protocols
Partners also created the first version of planned protocols for breeding and reintroducing ocelots in Texas. A breeding program that propagates a healthy and genetically diverse source stock of ocelots will be used for reintroduction. Protocols for providing veterinary care to the ocelots, behaviorally preparing them for life in the wild, releasing them at the reintroduction site, and monitoring them long-term have been developed as part of this “Manual” for breeding and reintroducing ocelots in Texas. You can view these plans under the Project Updates and News page. An Ocelot Conservation Facility to breed ocelots and prepare them for life in the wild is expected to begin construction in Kingsville, Texas in 2024.
Reintroducing an endangered species to privately owned lands also requires the development of mechanisms to relieve landowner concerns regarding restrictions on land use. Because a portion of the identified ocelot reintroduction site occurs on private lands, partners explored policy options that would allow for ocelot reintroduction while also protecting the rights and interests of landowners, identifying a Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement as a potential vehicle to meet program goals. The East Foundation developed a proposed Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for ocelot reintroduction and applied for associated permits under this Agreement in September 2023.
"The Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW), based at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, is focused on improving conservation outcomes for endangered wild felids, including the wild ocelots of South Texas. Over the past 25 years, CREW has been investigating the reproductive biology of ocelots and other small felid species to improve population management within zoos, and developing assisted reproduction approaches to support natural breeding efforts. CREW's success in applying semen collection, cryopreservation and artificial insemination with zoo-housed ocelots has laid the groundwork for using similar approaches to assist with recovery of wild Texas ocelots. Working with the Ocelot Species Survival Plan (SSP) and Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) Ocelot program as part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), CREW also plays a key role in propagating and managing ocelot populations for AZA-accredited zoos and the Texas ocelot breeding and rewilding facility."
— The Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife
"Wildlife species do not recognize borders. However, due to habitat loss, endangered Texas ocelots have been isolated from Mexican populations of ocelots, resulting in reduced genetic variability. To help alleviate this problem, it is imperative to create conservation programs, such as this ocelot recovery project, for the future preservation of the ocelot in Texas.
Members of Predator Conservation, A.C. have conducted ocelot field projects in both Texas and Northeast Mexico for more than 25 years. For this ocelot recovery plan, our task is to be the liaison between Mexican and American governments and conservation institutions." 
— Predator Conservation, A.C.
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