Doubts cast on va­lid­ity of ‘wild­cat’ find

Wildlife: Ex­perts split on DNA pu­rity

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS - BY JAMES WYLLIE

A wildlife or­gan­i­sa­tion’s claims that it res­cued a wild­cat kit­ten on an Aberdeen­shire farm have been thrown into doubt.

High­lands-based Wild­cat Haven said the un­der­weight fe­line was trapped by a Huntly farmer af­ter it ate his chick­ens.

Its mem­bers took the cat to a res­cue cen­tre, and plan to re­lease it in spring.

Wild­cat Haven’s Steve Sleigh said: “I had no idea what to ex­pect but as soon as I saw her I knew she was a wild­cat kit­ten, with a thick blunt tail, per­fect dor­sal stripe mark­ing and fe­ro­cious per­son­al­ity.”

She is the third such kit­ten res­cued by the group this year.

Their chief sci­en­tific ad­viser Paul O’Donoghue said: “There’s no ques­tion that th­ese kit­tens will all re­turn to the wild.

“We hope the male may bond with the new kit­ten, so they could be re­leased into ad­join­ing ter­ri­to­ries, en­hanc­ing the chances of them breed­ing healthy new kit­tens out in the wild.”

How­ever, wildlife ex­perts say no proof has been of­fered that any of th­ese an­i­mals are true wild­cats.

A spokesman for con­ser­va­tion group Scot­tish Wild­cat Ac­tion said: “We note that a wild­cat in­ter­est group is claim­ing to have dis­cov­ered a Scot­tish wild­cat kit­ten.

“It is not pos­si­ble to con­fi­dently iden­tify a wild­cat kit­ten from that of a do­mes­tic tabby cat by phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance alone.

“As this cat is be­ing held, there’s no rea­son not to carry out a ge­netic test.

“With­out this, it can­not be as­sumed that this kit­ten is a Scot­tish wild­cat.”

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