De­bat­ing wild­cats

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Our World -

I ad­mire the en­thu­si­asm of Pete Cooper and Derek Gow for rein­tro­duc­ing species such as the beaver and wild­cat to our coun­try­side (Should we bring back the wild­cats of olde Eng­land? Au­gust 2018). How­ever, what con­cerns me is his ques­tion: “If we don’t try now, then when?”

Rush­ing into rein­tro­duc­tions now ig­nores the im­pli­ca­tions of the species spread­ing into the wider coun­try­side. What hap­pens to the an­i­mals’ off­spring once they spread to neigh­bour­ing land and be­yond? We talk a lot about con­nec­tiv­ity and habi­tat frag­men­ta­tion; we need more ev­i­dence that we can pro­vide this, es­pe­cially for rein­tro­duc­tions. If we get it wrong, it is the an­i­mals who will suf­fer for it. Phil Maund, Isles of Scilly

Pete Cooper replies: con­ti­nen­tal ex­pe­ri­ence shows wild­cats are on the in­crease – even in frag­mented, pop­u­lated land­scapes – and we now have as much wood­land cover as we did in 1750 when wild­cats were still found through­out Eng­land and Wales. How­ever, good wood­land habi­tat that's con­nected is still ideal. If an English/Welsh re­lease was to go ahead, care­ful modelling would need to be done to es­tab­lish the best linked-up ar­eas of nat­u­ral habi­tat. The wild­cat can be a flag­ship an­i­mal to drive cre­ation of such cor­ri­dors, as in the 'wild­cat leap' project in Ger­many.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.