Local people have important part to play in native wildcat conservation

The Angus Glens are a key area in plans to conserve the wildcat population.
The Angus Glens are a key area in plans to conserve the wildcat population.

Local residents are being invited to learn more about Scottish wildcat conservation in the Angus glens at a drop-in session today (Thursday) in Kingoldrum.

The event, which will be held in the village hall at Kirkton of Kingoldrum between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., has been organised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to highlight its Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan.

Although the wildcat is the only native wild member of the cat family in the country, it has traditionally suffered from persecution and loss of habitat.

It has managed to recolonise parts of its former range in the early 20th century they still need help, and one of the main threats is cross-breeding with feral domestic cats.

The action plan aims to provide that help by focusing on areas with the best examples of wildcat populations which include forests, farmland and upland fringes in the Angus Glens.

The drop-in will provide an opportunity for the partners in the action plan to share the findings from recent surveys commissioned by SNH showing the importance of the area for wildcats.

Jenny Bryce, SNH’s wildlife ecologist, said: “We are keen to speak with estates, gamekeepers, stalkers, foresters, farmers, crofters, local people and cat owners who have a vital role to play in saving the Scottish wildcat.

“There are wildcats out there which are distinct from domestic cats and are well worth protecting. We hope to work with land managers and local people to reduce the threats to ensure these areas remain important”

George Macdonald, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) representative on the action plan group, stressed the importance of the keepers’ roles.

He said: “Their knowledge and fieldcraft will be a great help to the project team to reduce the problems of cross-breeding with genuine Scottish wildcats.”