Plans to reintroduce wildcats to areas of Devon and Cornwall are being debated, with one farmer leading the campaign to have the creatures back in the south west. Wildcats used to be common across the UK but have been extinct in England and Wales for over 100 years. Currently, they can only be found in remote areas of Scotland and in small conservation colonies at zoos and wildlife parks.
The campaign is being promoted by Derek Gow, a Devon based farmer. He hopes to be able to restore the wildcats to the Devon and Cornwall countryside as early as 2022 after successfully breeding them on his farm. Currently, he has six breeding pairs of wildcats and this summer, celebrated the birth of a number of kittens. Although, he estimates that he will need at least 150 breeding pairs before he can start reintroducing them into the countryside.
According to conservation groups, the UK’s wildcat population is dwindling and with Scottish wildcats breeding with feral domestic cats, the gene pool is decreasing leading to a real possibility of extinction. Wildcats live on rabbits and rodents, meaning that their reintroduction could prove to be an effective pest control for farmers, though not all are convinced that their livestock would be safe once they are back in the wild.
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