‘National effort’ needed to save Scottish wildcat

A MAMMALS expert has warned that a “national effort” is needed in order to save the Scottish wildcat from extinction.

Roo Campbell, the mammal adviser to government agency NatureScot, used the publication of a report to highlight the threat to the wildcat, which is critically endangered.

The report draws together the findings from the Scottish Wildcat Action project, which ran from 2015 until 2020.

The project has led onto Saving Wildcats, a prorgamme to breed wildcats in captivity before releasing them into the wild.

Campbell said: “The ‘Saving Wildcats’ project represents a vital phase in restoring the wildcat in Scotland, but this is not the final step on the journey, we’re still at the beginning.

“To succeed, wildcat conservation in Scotland next needs a nationwide effort with long-term commitments from all stakeholders over the coming decades.

“Improvements to habitats and reduction in risks, such as those from land management practices, will help ensure future wildcat populations remain viable.

“But a key part of this will also be removing the threat of hybridisation – this includes continuing efforts to neuter pet domestic cats, feral domestic cats, and obvious hybrids.”

He added: “This report highlights that changes to legislation to ensure pets are microchipped and neutered would also significantly reduce this threat, and so we would like to work with stakeholders to see what can be achieved to help save the wildcat.

“The ultimate goal must be to establish a population of wildcats that does not need further human intervention to secure its survival.

“We’re hopeful that we can achieve this by working together now to protect and restore this iconic species for generations to come.”

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss Andy Dobson’s article about wildcats in the May issue of Scottish Field magazine.