Wildcat clarity

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The recent sensational wildcat article raising concerns that the Scottish population may already be extinct (your report, November 12) is neither accurate nor representative of the vast majority of expert opinion in Scotland.

Low levels of genetic mixing are commonplace between the wildcat and its domestic relative across Europe and the available genetic data produced by our laboratory does not indicate that the species is extinct (or more accurately, extirpated) in Scotland.

It is true that one of the major threats to the Scottish population is an elevated level of hybridisation likely due to low wildcat numbers and high feral cat densities. For this reason, the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan is focussing on reducing incidents of hybridisation alongside boosting wildcat numbers in Scotland. The article, sadly, appeared after a very positive announcement by SNH regarding the six priority areas identified as the areas of focus for the Action Plan, an initiative supported by the Scottish Government and around 20 conservation organisations in Scotland.

It is important as a collective we do not undermine genuine Scottish wildcat conservation 
efforts.

(Dr) Rob Ogden

Head of science

Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

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