Latest News - Scottish Wildcat Action response to unfair criticism from Wildcat Haven
Scottish Wildcat Action response to unfair criticism from Wildcat Haven
Caption: Meet Rowan, one of the ten wildcats known to be living in the Strathbogie Wildcat Priority Area, Aberdeenshire
A recent press release from Wildcat Haven is misleading. Scottish Wildcat Action has already been working with the local community in its Strathbogie ‘Priority Area’ for over two years. Therefore this latest claim (re the first "pure," wildcat captured on film) is certainly not news to Scottish Wildcat Action, our team of professional, dedicated and hard-working Project Officers, and the many partner organisations we work with.
In autumn last year we detected 27 cats, six of which were identified as wildcat based on their pelage scores. These cats were found in our Strathbogie wildcat priority area in Aberdeenshire. This information was publicly announced in September 2016 and was reported in the media. Since then a further four wildcats have been discovered in the area, taking the total of known wildcats to 10.
In 2013/14 we also carried out a scoping survey in Aberdeenshire and identified a wildcat based on its high pelage score (coat markings), which was confirmed by our partners at the National Museum of Scotland. The wildcat shown in this “new,” video is extremely similar to one we have already identified. And in addition our partners from Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit detected wildcats back in 2011.
Scottish Wildcat Action continues its work to protect one of Scotland’s most endangered species. Our work in Aberdeenshire has already involved the trapping, neutering and release of almost 100 cats, in an area we know to be close to a wildcat population.
In addition to our extensive field work we feel it’s vital that we have the support of the Scottish wildcat conservation breeding programme and studbook through RZSS. This is another important conservation tool available to Scottish Wildcat Action and one that may be needed if we are to save the species from extinction.
We would like to continue to focus on conservation action work in the Strathbogie area, and land managers, gamekeepers, farmers, volunteers and members of the public have been hugely supportive of the work we are doing to save these majestic creatures and we would like to thank them for their continued support of the project.
We already have a full programme of winter work planned to protect Strathbogie’s wildcats, which includes further survey work and more TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate Return) activity.
Caption: Here's another of Aberdeenshire's wildcats, his name is Jake.
ADDITIONAL COMMENT FROM OUR PARTNERS AT NATIONAL MUSEUMS SCOTLAND
Dr Andrew Kitchener, Principal Curator of Vertebrate Biology at National Museums Scotland said: "I welcome the opportunity to look at any evidence of the Scottish wildcat in the wild and regularly examine evidence brought to my attention by members of the public or conservation groups.
“Wildcat Haven approached me to comment on this video footage, which shows one cat in the wild. The animal displays a number of characteristics of the Scottish wildcat, however not all of the characteristics which are used to identify the Scottish wildcat are visible in the video."
Dr Kitchener also said the purity of any suspected Scottish wildcat could only be confirmed definitively through genetic testing, which has not been carried out on this particular animal.
He added: “While the cat in this video shows a high number of characteristics of the Scottish wildcat, there is not yet sufficient evidence to fully determine its purity.
“Since the video shows one cat, it is also not sufficient evidence of a ‘population’ of pure Scottish wildcats.”
A Scottish wildcat filmed last year in Strathbogie, Aberdeenshire!
Dr Campbell is project manager for the priority areas programme of Scottish Wildcat Action. He has significant experience of carrying out research on the behaviour and ecology of Scottish wildcats and received his PhD in Zoology from Oxford University. He is based at Scottish Natural Heritage, Inverness.