Action to save the enigmatic Scottish wildcat from extinction received a major boost this week with the news that more than 100 feral domestic cats have been trapped during a recent neutering and vaccinating campaign.
The Scottish Wildcat Action programme was carried out in its priority areas which include the Angus Glens.
Since November last year three wildcat project officers, contractors and dozens of local volunteers helped to catch 115 cats.
Of these, 82 were taken to a veterinary surgeon for treatment and later returned and 12 feral kittens were re-homed.
Another seven cats were either pet cats or had been neutered previously and so were all released, and two were possible wildcats that were released without neutering.
The remaining 12 feral cats tested positive for disease or were in such poor condition and had to be put to sleep on welfare grounds.
Scottish Wildcat Action is a national project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aims to halt the decline of this native species by 2020.
It is led by Scottish Natural Heritage and is a partnership of 20 organisations.
Roo Campbell, priority areas manager for Scottish Wildcat Action, said: “Cross-breeding is diluting the wildcat gene pool and, as a result, they are losing their distinct adaptations to the harsh Scottish environment.
“Neutering and vaccinating domestic cats is the best way to protect them and we are very proud of our success this year.”