A phantom cat secretively stalks the remnants of thick brush in southernmost Texas. The rare ocelot was thought to have vanished from Texas when biologist Mike Tewes first began to search for the elusive cat 30 years ago.
Dr. Mike Tewes, Regents Professor at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, said, “When I started the project there were several biologists, wildlife biologists, that told me they didn’t exist in Texas, and a few said if they do exist they are very rare and you will never catch one, so I was pretty apprehensive at the beginning of the research, and that is why I was really elated when I caught the first one.”
Tewes captured and then released his first ocelot on March 2, 1982 on the Corbett Ranch near Raymondville, and he was elated.
“I was in heaven, and I remember calling my major professor, Dr. Morris Hornacker at the University of Idaho, and telling him hey, I caught the first ocelot, and he said that’s nice, but what are the chances of catching a second one… It brought me back down to earth real fast.”
Five days later, Mike caught his second cat, and from that humble beginning, he earned his doctorate and is now Regents Professor with Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University Kingsville, and a world authority on the endangered ocelot.