Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Can we have a ‘Good News’ story about Scottish wildcats please?

I started following the various stories about Scottish wildcats some years ago, almost by chance, simply because I’d come across one or two in captivity, and because they were cats of course, without really realising what the position was with their future then.

Over the years, it’s been depressing to watch the numbers estimated for true Scottish wildcats fall, as steadily more accurate means are employed to find those numbers.

This latest story makes even those estimates seem hugely optimistic.

A major study has concluded that Scottish wildcats are now part of the same gene pool as domestic cats.

The author of the research said it suggested wildcats were extinct, or on the brink of extinction, in the wild.

The researchers, from the Wildgenes Lab at Edinburgh Zoo, studied the DNA of almost 300 cats, most of which had been identified as wildcats.

They found all those living in the wild were part of the same hybrid gene pool as domestic animals.

The lead author of the study, Dr Helen Senn, said the vast majority of cats in the wild were “hybrids” and, from a “functional perspective”, Scottish wildcats were on the brink of extinction.

The key to future conservation efforts appears to lie in the almost 100 wildcats in captivity across the UK, which have a stronger genetic inheritance.

The fundamental problem is simple.

Scottish wildcats just love making kittens and they’re not too choosy who they make them with.

The same is true for domestic cats, feral or otherwise.

That interbreeding has long been recognised as a major threat to the survival of the “Highland Tiger”.

Now we know just how bad things are.

Scotland’s wildcats ‘functionally extinct’ in the wild

In earlier posts I made on this subject, I expressed concern that not all parties involved in saving the species were ‘Singing from the same hymn sheet’, with at least one group opposed to having wildcats in captivity.

This seemed wrong to me, with so few examples apparent.

Now, it seems those captive examples could be crucial.

Among the SWA’s (Scottish Wildcat Action) current initiatives to combat the spread of genes from domestic cats in wildcat areas is TNVR, which stands for “trap, neuter, vaccinate, release”.

They also surveyed the wildcat population using camera traps and other techniques, and the emphasis is shifting towards capturing live specimens with the best quality DNA.

The key to the future seems to lie in the almost 100 wildcats living in public and private sanctuaries across the UK.

The testing has shown these captive cats have a stronger genetic inheritance and it is hoped their DNA could be reintroduced to the wild.

As I said in those earlier posts, this is not a scenario where infighting or the like can have any benefits.

I suggested someone should maybe be “Banging heads together” to end such stupidity.

I haven’t seen any news of those disagreements, and hope they are a thing of the past, or that they maybe just get rid of anyone who isn’t actually helping.

If they waste their time on needless bickering, THIS may the only wild cats kittens we have one day.

Scottish Wild Kittens Shortbread

Scottish Wild Kittens Shortbread

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20/12/2018 - Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | ,

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