- + When/Where are they being released?
In the Cairngorms. 20 cats will be released each year for three years, starting in 2023.
- + Why are wildcats endangered?
They used to be persecuted, now they are at risk from feline diseases, traffic and accidental persecution (from people trying to control feral cats to protect game). And they can breed with domestic cats, which dilutes the gene pool.
- + How have the release sites been chosen?
The release sites have been surveyed, and now the team is surveying the areas around the potential release sites. They are making sure the sites are safe locations for the wildcats, that there are enough den sites, that there is enough prey and that domestic/feral cats in the area are vaccinated and chipped.
- + Will the wildcats destroy the bird population?
Birds are not wildcats’ main food source. They tend to eat voles, rabbits and other small mammals. They are an important part of the food chain – predators are needed in our ecosystem, and we have lost so many in Britain already.
- + Will the wildcats be a threat to pet cats?
Wildcats avoid confrontation with other animals. The fact that they have bred with domestic cats shows that they can live side by side. The Saving Wildcats team are working with the local community to promote responsible cat ownership.
- + Will any feral cats be culled?
No. If feral cats are found in the release areas, they’ll be caught, neutered, vaccinated and released, unless they’re ill or a risk to wildcats.
- + Will the wildcats be a threat to people or livestock?
No. Wildcats prefer to avoid humans and there is no evidence to suggest that they will be a threat to livestock. Wildcats specialise in small mammal prey, particularly rodents and rabbits.
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