First-ever Scottish Wildcat Release Approved

Susan Thomson

NatureScot has approved a licence application from the Saving Wildcats partnership to release wildcats in the Cairngorms National Park later this year.

The decision marks the first-ever conservation translocation of wildcats in Britain, with the first in a series of trial releases being planned to help restore Scotland’s critically endangered wildcat population.

Led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), the application from Saving Wildcats was submitted in September 2022 and assessed by NatureScot in line with the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations. The process considers a range of issues including animal welfare, site suitability and potential impacts on neighbouring and community interests.

In considering the licence application, NatureScot assessed the proposed release site, Cairngorms Connect, to be suitable for wildcat translocation from the project’s conservation breeding for release centre at RZSS’s Highland Wildlife Park.

Releasing wildcats in the vast landscape of Cairngorms Connect will be an important first step in helping to re-establish the species in Scotland while achieving a range of benefits for people and nature in the Cairngorms National Park. There are, however, risks and challenges associated with the translocation of a predator species to the area, and success will rely on support from local communities.

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