Latest News - Celebrating TNVR success in Strathbogie Wildcat Priority Area

Celebrating TNVR success in Strathbogie Wildcat Priority Area

More than 80 feral cats have been vaccinated and neutered in Aberdeenshire in a move designed to protect and preserve Scottish wildcats.

Cats in the Strathbogie area were trapped, neutered, vaccinated and returned (TNVR) in the major drive to protect this vital stronghold for endangered Scottish Wildcats from cross breeding with ferals and disease.

The past winter’s drive was through the efforts of Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA), the only national conservation effort to save the critically endangered Scottish wildcat though neutering feral cats. It is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and comprises a partnership of 20 organisations.

Wildcat conservation is an important feature of the Scottish Government’s 2020 Biodiversity Challenge.

A team of SWA staff and local volunteers trapped feral cats in forests and farms around Strathbogie.  Their main targets were ferals living nearest to known wildcat hotspots. Cats were then treated by vets before being returned with a clean bill of health to their original location.

Two thirds of the feral cats were from three farm colonies in which signs of contagious feline diseases were also found.

Emma Rawling, the local project officer, said: “It is such a satisfying feeling to know we are making  a real difference to local wildcats by making sure their feline  ‘neighbours’ are no risk to them. What is great is that the feral cats’ welfare also benefits as neutering and vaccination is beneficial for feral and pet cats alike.”

“We’ve had support and cooperation from local landowners and especially project partners Forest Enterprise Scotland. It has been a real team effort to catch over 80 cats, with help from local folk who told us about feral cat sightings, farmers who gave us access permission, volunteers staffing camera traps and checking our cage traps and transferring cats to vets, and the vet team too.”

The team has appealed for help from members of the public who may have seen feral cats and farmers with farm cats.

Forest Enterprise Scotland is another active partner in this SWA collaboration. As well as building artificial dens – either by siting nest boxes or ‘re-modelling’ derelict buildings – the FES team has been involved in authorising and siting camera traps.

As a matter of day-to-day business, they manage many of the area’s commercial forests, some of which, like Clashindarroch and Glen Doll forests, are huge and in remote areas. But their involvement in the project means that they have built up a specialist knowledge of the areas that are particularly attractive to wildcats - areas with mixed age classes of trees, grassy clear-fell areas and riparian zones. This knowledge has been invaluable to the SWA team.

 

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I'm responsible for the delivery of Scottish Wildcat Action’s Communications plan. I promote the work of the project and its key messages through our website, the media and social media channels – and those of our partners.

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