Wednesday, 5 September 2012

When is a wildcat really a wildcat?


With claims big cats are stalking the countryside, researchers are developing a DNA test to identify Scotland's pure-bred wildcats.
There have been questions whether sightings of "big cats" might be wildcats or feral domestic cats.
But researchers at the University of Chester want to find a gene test to distinguish wildcats from hybrids cross-bred with domestic cats.
The study wants to protect the pure-bred wildcats from extinction.
Geneticists at the university want to find a DNA test to define whether a cat is a pure-bred wildcat, which can be up to 4ft (1.22m) long.
'The last stand'
Senior lecturer in biology, Paul O'Donoghue, believes there might be fewer than 100 Scottish wildcats surviving in the wild - with their future threatened by inter-breeding with runaway domestic cats.

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