BBC Animal Science — A scientist who has developed a genetic test to identify pure Scottish wildcats has warned that the species could be extinct within two years. Dr Paul O’Donoghue said cross breeding with feral and hybrid cats made extinction a certainty unless “urgent” conservation activity took place. The University of Chester biologist said pure wildcats should be trapped. He also suggested that private individuals could be keeping the “very best” wildcats as pets. The senior lecturer in biology asked for these people to come forward and help with the conservation effort.
In remote and rural parts of the Highlands it is known for people to take wildcats that visit their properties into their care. Dr O’Donoghue and his team have developed a test that can look at a small blood sample and scan all of the 63,000 genes that make up any individual cat. …
The biologist said the species was now one of the rarest in the world. He said it was of the “utmost importance” that large scale live trapping took place and cats found to be pure-bred wildcats then be placed in protected areas in the west Highlands.
In September last year, conservationists forecast that Scottish wildcats would be extinct in the wild within months as numbers of pure-bred cats had fallen to about 35 individuals. (05/22/2013)