Wildcats are to be launched in Cairngorms Nationwide Park this summer season after a brand new licence utility from a conservation group was authorised.
NatureScot, which authorised the licence, stated the choice marks the primary ever conservation translocation of wildcats within the UK.
The Scottish Authorities company stated it hopes the undertaking will assist restore Scotland’s critically-endangered wildcat inhabitants.
The Saving Wildcats partnership, which utilized for the licence in September final yr, plans to launch round 20 wildcats yearly, with the primary trial launch deliberate for June.
In contemplating the licence utility, NatureScot assessed the proposed launch website as appropriate for relocating wildcats from the undertaking’s breeding centre on the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) Highland Wildlife Park.
The company, nonetheless, stated whereas the undertaking will profit the species, there are dangers and challenges related to relocating predators and success will depend on the assist of native communities.
NatureScot’s head of biodiversity Dr Katherine Leys stated: “Habitat loss, persecution and hybridisation with home cats has introduced the Scottish wildcat inhabitants to the brink of extinction.
“The Saving Wildcats partnership has been a lifeline for the species and our determination to grant a translocation licence to permit wildcats to be launched within the Highlands of Scotland marks a vital level within the lengthy journey in the direction of conserving this iconic species.
“This journey shouldn’t be with out problem, and we all know that there are extra hurdles to beat earlier than we attain the purpose the place we’re able to launch the wildcats into rigorously chosen areas of the Cairngorms Nationwide Park.
“As soon as there, the wildcats will face additional challenges, so it’s essential the undertaking continues to work with native communities, farmers, land-owners and cat homeowners to make sure wildcats are given the most effective probability to outlive and thrive.”
Dr Helen Senn, the Saving Wildcats undertaking lead and RZSS head of conservation, stated the animals will likely be monitored utilizing GPS collars following their launch.
She stated the chosen website gives “an acceptable mixture of habitats and potential prey for the species”, including: “It’s incredible to achieve this milestone and press forward with planning for trial wildcat releases within the Cairngorms over the summer season.”
Saving Wildcats is among the largest species conservation tasks in Britain and it’s supported by RZSS, NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland and the Cairngorms Nationwide Park Authority, along with European companions Nordens Ark and Junta de Andalucia.
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