It’s been all go go go in the North Strathspey wildcat priority area, setting everything to run like clockwork for the winter survey - 18 camera survey volunteers trained, about 90% of the priority area with confirmed permission for camera placements, 70 trail cameras ready to be placed in the best wildcat habitat, and a lot of interest from local communities about the wildcats that they may be living amongst.
Feedback from the training was very positive with volunteers keen to get out there and make a difference to the survival of the Scottish wildcat in the area. You can get a taste of what the volunteers are doing from the training video now on YouTube.
On top of setting up the winter survey, there have been a number of suspected road traffic casualty cats sent off for analysis by National Museums Scotland. Let us know if you spot what looks like a wild-living cat carcass, so we can add that to the bank of information building up about wild cats (not just wildcats) in the Strath.
Cats Protection have also been doing some fantastic complimentary work of trapping and neutering cats in the villages and towns, notably at the north end of Aviemore where there seems to have been unneutered feral cats breeding on the edge of areas known to contain potential wildcats. Sadly, this is possibly due to “dumping” of unwanted cats in the vicinity of the recycling facility, which we are planning to address through a responsible cat ownership campaign in 2016.
By Christmas, trail cameras will be in position ready to go live for real for a run of 60 continuous days. They will have our distinct logo on them. If they look like they are going to be covered in a snow drift, have been dislodged or the posts collecting hair samples or where bait is suspended from are missing or fallen over, please let us know so we can rectify any issues as soon as possible. Volunteers will be checking them every 2 weeks, but if we get an early warning from others, that is even better and is a way you can contribute to the efforts to save our Scottish wildcats.
Scottish Wildcat Action is the first national project to save the highly endangered Scottish wildcat from extinction. It is a partnership involving over 20 organisations, including, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry Commission Scotland, National Museums Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. It is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Government, as well as its partners. See www.scottishwildcataction.org/how-you-can-help to get involved.