Biologists need a variety of tools to determine the population and genetic status of the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), an elusive Neotropical cat that favors dense habitats. We developed and tested a technique that entices ocelots to rub on scented hair snares and uses DNA analysis of the hair to determine species, gender, and individual identity. Twenty-seven (84%) of 32 captive ocelots rubbed against the scented pads. In field tests at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge in south Texas, we detected a minimum of 6 ocelots, including at least 3 of 4 radiocollared animals. Using a 6-locus microsatellite analysis, we made individual identification for 10 of 20 samples. Scented hair snares can provide useful information on the population and genetic status of ocelots and identification of key areas and connecting linkages. We suggest that surveys for ocelots deploy 1 station per 25–50 ha and check them every 1–2 weeks.
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