I have been inundated with calls and emails about what’s actually happening on the ground in Strathbogie. Here’s what we are doing and just as importantly what we’re not. It’s been a while since I have had the time to give everyone an update on the current situation in Strathbogie in our crusade to save Scotland’s wildcats.
In the last two years we have worked many thousands of hours in the area to save our wildcats. I wanted to make it crystal clear what we do and what we don’t do. We remain committed to conserving wildcats in the wild and therefore our Project Officers and volunteers are not removing wildcats in the priority areas. Our activity in these areas will help ensure those wildcats survive and produce more wildcats for the future. Outside our priority areas, the situation is less rosy and without intervention a wildcat there may not contribute to the future of the species.
Caption: Emma Training Scottish Wildlife Trust junior WATCH group members
With low numbers of wildcats even in the priority areas, the sad reality is that if there are not enough wildcats left to ensure a breeding population in the wild then supplementing the wild population from the RZSS conservation breeding programme will become crucial. Our Project Officers and volunteers also do not and never have shot or killed feral /farm cats. I spend so much time trying to get these messages across to people who ask me these questions due to so much misinformation floating around.
Here are some interesting stats:
- 1 Scottish Wildcat Action staff
- 40 local Volunteers
- 100 feral and farm cats TVNR’d (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return)
Of that total there were:
- 72 feral cats neutered and released
- 13 feral kittens rehomed
- 13 feral cats euthanased by vets on welfare grounds
- 1 high quality hybrid was caught and released
- 1 pet cat was caught accidentally and released
Caption: Emma and volunteers, Marion and Maria, doing TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return) on farm feral cats
- 20 pet cats were neutered with our free vouchers
- 10 Scottish wildcats were identified
- 30 plus hybrids identified
- Over 60 public sightings followed up
- Over 80 cameras deployed seasonally to monitor all wild living cats
- More than 30 local events attended and talks given
- Over 20 media Interviews facilitated
Caption: Emma spreading the word at a local event
I have been working hard with a fantastic team of local people who have provided sightings, helped with access, volunteered with surveying and TNVR and so much more. Without their help I could not have covered even half of this huge workload. So much of the credit goes to them. Our volunteers are a great community with wildcats at heart.
The highlight of the past year for me has been the tremendous support of our volunteers and local community. Of course with the highs there are always lows and the biggest disappointment for me has been discovering just how many feral, un-owned and unloved cats there are out there, which represent a direct threat to the Scottish wildcat. This is why our programme of TNVR (Trapped, Neutered, Vaccinated and Returned) is so crucial.
We are all aware that there is so much more to do though and we have big plans for more work this coming fieldwork season. Our survey and TNVR season in areas where there are wildcats will start as usual in the autumn and go through winter - the safest time to work without any negative effects on wildcats or kittens as their welfare is always uppermost in our work.
Caption: Emma during some of her Autumn fieldwork
Right now, I am working with some local farmers on neutering some big farm cat colonies - sites like farms are better for TNVR this time of year as we can monitor them carefully and avoid affecting any kittens or wildcats adversely. Some of these colonies are very large (20, 30 or even 40 cats) and some have significant problems with disease and inbreeding.
With my 25 year career in veterinary nursing, animal welfare and as a wildlife ranger, I am never happier than helping feral and farm cats through TNVR and at the same time helping save our wildcats. I am doing my very best to keep the local vets busy with cats to neuter!
If you would like to know more about the reality of our work for yourself, please just ask us as we are always happy to answer questions - we are fully committed to being open, transparent and accountable in all our work.
Caption: Emma giving talk to volunteers and supporters - survey results and news event 2017
If you would like to meet Emma and the volunteer team, or find out about how to get involved, look out for our upcoming local autumn events where everyone is welcome.