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Scheme breeds success

The Scottish wildcat is more threatened than the tiger.

This situation has arisen due to a failure over many years to tackle the main threat to the animal: interbreeding with the domestic cat. There is a clear and present danger of the extinction of this renowned Scotish species through hybridisation. The time for words is long over; now is the time for action.

The Wildcat Haven project in Ardnamurchan appears to show how the Scottish wildcat might be saved. By removing the threat of hybridisation in the area, it provides a secure place for wildcats to increase in numbers and thrive. Crucially, unlike other, more controversial conservation projects such as that involving the red squirrel, which entails killing greys, feral cats in Ardnamurchan have been trapped, neutered and released.

Not only is animal welfare a stated priority for the scientists involved, but having the feral cats remain locally also prevents an ecological vacuum from suddenly emerging.

How the project works long term will have to be carefully monitored, but this is a heartening development that could offer a workable way to protect the Scottish wildcat.

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