Keri is responsible for Northern Strathspey and Morvern. She has extensive experience of working as an ecological consultant and has worked for Cat’s Protection. She is based in Aviemore.
In eager anticipation of the monitoring season this winter, I started camera-trapping my own garden (and domestic moggies), ostensibly to familiarise myself with this new camera model, but really just for fun. Fig and Orca, my two housecats, made a number of appearances but so did some other visitors.
Here's a selection of the regulars, surprise visitors, and a few feline interlopers...
From roe deer to the elusive Scottish wildcat, camera trapping is an ideal way to find out what shy creatures are up to in the wild and, importantly, where they are.
Trail cameras will be used across the six wildcat priority areas of Strathpeffer, Strathbogie, Strathavon, Northern Strathspey, Angus Glens and Morvern. This will be the biggest survey of wild-living cats to date, with over 400 cameras going out by the end of the year.
That's a lot of images to trawl through!
However, not only is this a hugely valuable source of data about what cats are out there, whether they are feral cats, wildcats or hybrids (those with mixed ancestry), but it will also allow me and the other project officers to target our Trap Neuter Vaccinate and Release programme more effectively.
By neutering and vaccinating a high number of feral cats in these wildcat priority areas we hope to reduce the risk of hybridisation and the spread of disease to what's left of our native cat.
This adorable hedgehog made me laugh when it fell off the steps. In all seriousness though, monitoring is going to be a lot of work and we all really need your help. If you are based in one of the priority areas, please do consider becoming a volunteer. With all these cameras, we need lots of pairs of hands to set them up and lots of sets of eyes to go through the images.
I am so grateful to have had many people come forward already and offer their help. A few will be setting up camera traps and others will be sifting through the images to pull out any cats they find.
Feline interloper - grey boy
Like this tom cat who came sniffing around our house and was caught in the act.
I am holding a meeting for those interested in volunteering in Strathpeffer on 6th October, so if anyone else hopes to take part in the project in this area, do come along, even if you just want to find out more before deciding to commit. You can get in touch with me directly to find out more details or keep an eye on our facebook page as event details will be posted there too.
For those in other areas, please add your details to our volunteer form on the website. Thank you so much for your support!
This content was made possible by our Partners & Funders at Heritage Lottery Fund
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