Tayside and Central Scotland

Possible sighting of endangered Scottish wildcat investigated

Scottish Wildcat sighting Image copyright Scottish Wildcat Action
Image caption Footage of the creature is being examined to establish whether it is a Scottish wildcat

A possible sighting of a Scottish wildcat has been made by a gamekeeper on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens.

Bruce Cooper, a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, was checking CCTV when he saw the cat's distinctive markings.

The Scottish wildcat is on the edge of extinction and the glens are one of six priority areas for its conservation.

Scottish Wildcat Action project officers will now carefully examine the images to establish whether it is one of the endangered creatures.

Mr Cooper set up the camera as part of the project's drive to conserve the species.

He said: "The trail cameras were installed in the new year and I was checking the film for the second time when I saw the cat.

"It came to a bait of rabbit and it looks like the real deal, although that will have to be established now."

Image caption Scottish wildcats are on the edge of extinction

Main threat

Hebe Carus, Scottish Wildcat Action officer, said: "Reliable identification requires having a variety of different views of the cat and having the time to look for the seven main defining features.

"Only after analysing the pictures Bruce has sent can I confirm whether the cat displays all the defining features of a genuine Scottish wildcat."

Ms Carus said she hopes a scented post beside the camera will capture hair for DNA analysis if the animal returns.

The main threat to the wildcat is interbreeding with domestic cats, which also spreads disease.

In order to protect the remaining wildcats, the project team aims to trap, neuter and vaccinate unowned domestic cats and obvious hybrids before re-releasing them into the wild under licence from Scottish Natural Heritage.

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