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Wildcat population ‘no longer viable’ in Scotland
Hybridisation, where wildcats breed with feral or domestic cats, is a major threat to the species.

Cat owners ‘have an important role’ in reversing declines

There is no longer a viable wildcat population living in Scotland, according to a review of the evidence by members of the IUCN.

Previous studies have shown that hybridisation - where wildcats breed with feral or domestic cats - is a major threat to the species. Limited food sources and persecution are thought to have prompted the few remaining wildcats to breed with domestic cats.

Steps are now underway to bring the species back from the brink, including a potential release programme of captive-bred animals and a National Wildlife Reintroduction Centre.

Scottish Natural Heritage said a national conversation is needed on how to manage domestic and feral cat populations.

“The public will have an important role in helping minimise future hybridisation,” said head of policy and advice, Eileen Stuart. “Responsible cat ownership - including microchipping, neutering and vaccinations - is one way we can help reduce the devastating effects on wildcats.”

Dr Andrew Kitchener, steering group chair for Scottish Wildcat Action (SWA), added: “We now have the strongest and most reliable evidence to date that wildcats are in a more endangered state than previously understood.

“While we believe there are wildcats remaining in the wild in Scotland, there are no longer enough to ensure their continued survival as viable populations. We can now plan the essential next steps to give the wildcat a sustainable future.”

SWA’s project partner, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, is working with a range of organisations on a series of measures to reverse the declines.

Scottish cabinet secretary Roseanna Cunningham said she will “consider every possible action the Scottish Government can take to save [the species]”.

Image by Peter Trimming/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0
 

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Regional Representatives nominations sought

News Story 1
 Seven new regional representatives are being sought by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to speak for vets from those regions and to represent their views to BVA Council.

The opportunities are available in in the North-East, Yorkshire & Humber, East Midlands, West Midlands, London, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Representatives from all sectors of the veterinary profession are urged to apply.

BVA president Daniella Dos Santos, said: "Our regional representatives are integral to that mission and to the activities of Council - contributing to effective horizon scanning on matters of veterinary policy and providing an informed steer to BVA’s Policy Committee.” 

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Livestock Antibody Hub receives funding boost

The Pirbright Institute has received US $5.5 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to form a Livestock Antibody Hub aimed at supporting animal and human health. The work will bring together researchers from across the UK utilise research outcomes in livestock disease and immunology.

Dr Doug Brown, chief executive of the British Society for Immunology, commented: “The UK is a world leader in veterinary immunology research, and this transformative investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will drive the next chapter of innovation in developing new treatments and prevention options against livestock diseases".