The last Scottish wildcat? – by Helen Douglas

The last Scottish Wildcat is about to be exterminated – because developers are chasing windfarm subsidies.

This week The Herald carried a story about the wildcat queen that lives on the hillside opposite my cottage, where I am a shepherd.  She has already been ousted from the den where she reared a kitten two seasons ago, when quarry was excavated to create hard-standing for a single wind turbine.  Scottish Natural Heritage did not come out of that smelling of roses, as the developers flouted recommendations for wildcat protection on a number of occasions, and the response was along the lines of ‘O dear, perhaps we should have given our advice earlier, but now we’ve left it too long and it’s too late – the wildcat won’t be around now so we’ll not do anything about it.’  There was no ‘policing’ and penalty or even warning was issued to the landowner.

This time, there are seven turbines to be erected on the adjacent slope – where we have captured the same queen on night camera.  And Scottish Natural Heritage has omitted its previous advice to ‘avoid activity during the breeding season, March – August inclusive.’ However, Scottish Wildlife Trust HAS asked Perth and Kinross Council to impose this condition.  But so far, there has been no response.

We are petitioning Perth and Kinross Council to include this protective condition.  One breeding season for one female could be the writing on the tombstone for the species, felis sylvestris sylvestris.

Scottish Natural Heritage is playing the popularity game with the developers, and saying that wind farms won’t destroy too much habitat (though earlier I have them on record as saying they don’t know enough about HOW much habitat a wildcat does require ). They are concentrating on cross-breeding with feral cats as being the biggest threat to the species.  When, however, there is evidence of an apparently ‘pure’ wild cat on our hill, shouldn’t they be doing all they can to protect her, on all fronts?

It may come to camping out in front of the diggers… Is anyone going to join me?  Or at least bring me a flask of tea?  I’ve never done anything like this – so please advise me or support me. Please, if you have not already done so, would you sign the petition to Perth and Kinross Council?  It can be found by using the link below.

http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/protect-scottish-wildcat-from-industrial-activity

Helen Douglas (- I cannot check email regularly while I am lambing sheep in a remote area during May – but would appreciate help/advice and will reply when I do have internet access!) puffball@tiscali.co.uk

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