Saturday, April 4, 2015

Conservation Groups Defend Scottish Wildcat Captive Breeding Plan

A Scottish wildcat

Conservation groups have recently come into the spotlight for defending a planned Scottish wildcat captive breeding program known as the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan. The movement came after an animal charity asserted that trapping wildcats to breed them in zoos undermined the species' chances of survival. Among the thirty groups defending the program included the Scottish Natural Heritage and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, whose members indicated that it was crucial to conserve the wildcats. The Scottish wildcat is faced with the threat of extinction due to breeding with feral cats, disease, loss of habitat, and roadkill. One particular critic of the captive breeding plan is the Captive Animals Protection Society (CAPS), which supports the use of a 500-square mile area including the Ardnamurchan and Movern peninsulas known simply as the "Wildcat Haven." Its campaigns director, Nicola O'Brien, argued that capturing animals from the wild to stock zoo exhibits is unacceptable. In addition, Emily O'Donoghue, director of the Wildcat Haven project, asserted that any effort to remove wildcats from the region will be opposed and that the project aims to open several new sites to protect other wildcats. Supporters of the action plan, on the other hand, argued that it symbolizes the majority view on conservation efforts to save the wildcats, and indicated that capturing some genetically important at-risk wildcats was essential to conserve the species. Captive breeding would happen in the Highland Wildlife Park, but also in areas inaccessible to the public, and the plan's goal is to stop the decline of Scottish wildcats within six years. The Scottish Natural Heritage indicated that captive breeding would "reinforce" populations in the wild. Its director of policy and advice, Andrew Bachell, stated that the work will use current captive wildcats and would add to the captive cat population with a small number of extra cats to avoid inbreeding and guarantee that any breeding program has a healthy genetic base. The group also added that work to set up six priority areas for Scottish wildcat population would begin soon.
Scottish wildcat kitten

The Scottish wildcat population is critically low due to issues ranging from disease and habitat loss, to breeding with domestic cats. It is highly essential to take necessary steps to prevent any further depletion in the population to these factors. Captive breeding is necessary to help revive genetically pure individuals, in order to expand the population. At the same time, identifying and proposing specific areas of protection is also important. Relying on just one of these strategies is not sufficient enough to save the Scottish wildcat from the brink of extinction. CAPS has spoken against the captive breeding program and insisted that the wildcats are to remain in the wild with no form of human interference. The Wildcat Haven project added that it intends to establish several new sites to protect the wildcats What would happen if feral cats suddenly turn up in these areas? This is why it is extremely important that the defenders and the opponents of the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan should come to terms with one another and join forces to save the Scottish wildcat. In addition to captive breeding and establishing new sites for the wildcats, it is crucial to implement methods to prevent the feral cat population from taking control over areas that may be sufficient for wildcats. This includes capturing feral cats and offering them for adoption to the public. A similar technique has and continues to be used in the U.S in dealing with feral horses and donkeys known as mustangs and burros. The Scottish wildcat is currently the top predator in its native habitat after the wolf was hunted to extinction and if this cat becomes extinct, it would tremendously affect Scotland's ecosystem.

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