The jaguarundi is the most mysterious cat native to Texas-or the Americas for that matter.
This video gives a super rare look at the mysterious cats at Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fl.
Jaguarundis are known to range from South America to the Mexican borders of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The key word here is “known”. That means scientists have observed or captured the species within those areas, however they are reported to range much farther north in the Lone Star State and perhaps elsewhere.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials solicited information from the public and received numerous reports of the species in the 1960s, including several sightings from central and east Texas. Additional sightings were reported from as far away as Florida, Oklahoma, and Colorado
In a study conducted in 1984, TPWD biologists noted a string of unconfirmed jaguarundi sightings in Brazoria County, which corners the hugely populated areas of both Houston and Galveston.
Brazoria County is more than 200 miles north of the counties of Cameron and Willacy, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has designated as being the only confirmed areas of Texas that houses jaguarundis or has in the recent past. There haven’t been official sightings in years.
A study conducted by Arizona and federal scientists states that jaguarundi habitat, especially in South Texas, includes dense, thorny thickets of mesquite and stunted acacias known as chaparral. It also state less than one percent of this type of habitat is left along the US-Mexican border.
That’s true but jaguarundis are known to live in a variety of habitats, including rainforests, prairie, deciduous forests and marshland. It could very well be that very few jaguarundis live in that zone because of a lack of habitat. Most of that area has been converted to farmland. The game and habitat-rich areas along the Texas coast along with the Pineywoods and Hill Country region however is housing a population of jaguarundis that have slipped under the radar screen of federal officials.
If there’s any validity to the 1960s TPWD report, sightings have been recorded in several states bordering Texas. Since TPWD biologists say the cats are present in Port Arthur, which rests on the Texas-Louisiana border then it’s likely the cats also inhabit that state. It’s also possible they could range into Oklahoma and Arkansas. Gauging how far they might range throughout New Mexico and Arizona is more difficult because there have been few studies conducted there. Their ability to survive in solid desert is also questionable.
Florida has many reports of jaguarundis as well although the status of the species there remains controversial.
More research needs to go into this matter and Bear Creek Feline Center is leading the charge in Florida.
Chester Moore, Jr.