Scottish wildcat: going, going….

Scottish wildcats will be extinct in the wild within months, according to a new report (see here and here). Disease and inter-breeding with domestic and feral cats are considered to be main threats, although illegal persecution on sporting estates and farms is also considered to be a problem, according to the Scottish Wildcat Association (here). One academic believes the blame for the demise of the Scottish wildcat ‘can be placed firmly at the door’ of Scottish shooting estates who set thousands of indiscriminate snares every year (see here).

Surprisingly, the Scottish wildcat is not on the SGA’s ‘vermin’ list (i.e. animals that they think should be culled to protect their game stock). Indeed, the SGA was a partner in the Cairngorms Wildcat Project, helping to develop protocols for so-called wildcat-friendly predator control. These protocols included issuing wildcat ID cards to keepers, encouraging them not to shoot on sight if there was any doubt about the species’ identification, and the use of live traps instead of night-time shooting to reduce the risk of a wildcat being shot accidentally (see here for the Cairngorms Wildcat Project Final Report 2012).

However, with the latest estimate of 35 individual wildcats remaining in the wild, is it all a bit too late? The Scottish Wildcat Association are urging ‘bold action’ from SNH and the Scottish Government. Let’s hope they respond accordingly.


8 Responses to “Scottish wildcat: going, going….”

  1. 1 Chris Roberts
    September 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Yes belatedly the S.G.A. have come aboard to help save this species, after relentlessly persecution for decades decimating its numbers. I was at the Wildcat project meeting in Aviemore a couple of years ago, and when the SGA agreed to join the project, many of there members were not very happy about it, and wanted assurancies that once it was out of danger, they could revert to ‘controlling’ it.

  2. September 13, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I think it’s impossible to say the wildcat will be extinct within months because it’s not known how many there are in Scotland.

    Inter-breeding with domestic and feral cats is inevitable unless wildcats are kept in special reserves and is there much point in this? What we appear to have, it is thought, because again the evidence is thin on the ground because of the nature of the beast are many cross-breed wildcats. These are still wild animals which look like wildcats and behave pretty much like wildcats. We should be happy with this and preserve them.

    I have no time for anyone who shoots or snares cats or any other creature. Scotland’s shooting estates are a disgrace and gravely threaten indigenous animals and birds in this country. I wouldn’t trust a gamekeeper as far as I could throw him to avoid killing any creature he finds on the estate which employs him. They have a blood lust and get kicks out of using live animals and birds as target practice as many in the countryside can testify.

    Wildcats, whether pure blood or cross-breeds, are magnificent and shy creatures and those of us who come across them value them for what they are and can only hope that they don’t stray onto shooting estates or become victims on our roads.

  3. September 14, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Another example , it seems to me, of the landholding fraternity setting themselves above the law and taking action on a matter that “they” decide about based on their interpretations and their “rules”. This is as much a social problem as one associated with killing animals or birds illegally. I suspect such arrogance can only be confronted by a strong all-out political campaign that, sadly, I suspect the conservation organizations haven’t the stomach for. Civilized condemnation, discussions and endless suggested initiatives aimed at improving the situation, particularly with birds of prey, are simply brushed aside. An assault needs to be made on these self applied powers of the Establishment. We’ve moved back into Victorian times with some of the attitudes that have now emerged and I’m afraid their permanence is going to be a regular feature until such time that concerted political action is taken in England, resulting in a change of Government, and a more focussed willingness to take on the Estates is exercised in Scotland. This is not the environment I wish to live in and I guess many more people feel the same!!!.

    • 4 Grouseman
      September 14, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      Sporting estates have shown they are supporting the preservation of the Scottish wildcat so what you are saying is inaccurate! Without a shadow of a doubt without controlling feral cats the wildcat would have disappeared years ago. There is far more threat to the genetic integrity and survival of the wildcat by irresponsible cat owners letting their pets roam wild all over the countryside!

  4. 5 Merlin
    September 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    So basically after years of persecuting them, Gamekeepers say they are going to stop, hmm sure I,ve heard that before andthen passing the blame onto irresponsible cat owners.

  5. 6 jack black
    September 18, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Perhaps the SGA and landowners will help support a programme to reintroduce wildcats. The resulting information may reveal the reasons for their decline.

    If they if they truly support the ‘highland tiger’ then I am sure they will get behind the reintroduction of the lynx………..another shy, native feline that has been persecuted to extinction.

    • 7 Chris Roberts
      September 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

      I am a great supporter of the reintroduction of the Lynx, this cat should never have been driven to extinction in the first place. However I would be willing to bet that this will never happen, a bet that I would be very happy to lose!

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