Hopes are rising after the sighting of a possible Scottish wildcat was spotted on camera by a gamekeeper on a grouse moor in the Angus Glens.
The sighting is rare as wildcats are Scotland’s most endangered mammal and there may only be a few left in the country.
A local gamekeeper claims he spotted a possible wildcat enjoying a meal of rabbit when he checked footage from the camera he is operating as part of Scottish Wildcat Action’s drive to conserve the species.
Bruce Cooper, head gamekeeper, a member of Angus Glens Moorland Group, was checking film on Wednesday evening when he saw the cat with highly distinctive markings.
The glens of Angus were identified last year as being one of the six priority areas for wildcat conservation and the grouse estate – where the sighting was recorded – lies within the Cairngorms National Park.
Images of the cat have now been sent by Mr Cooper to the project team for identification before it is decided what the next steps should be.
Mr Cooper said: “The trail cameras were installed in the New Year and I was checking the film for the second time when I saw the cat. It came to a bait of rabbit and it looks like the real deal, although that will have to be established now.”
Project officers at Scottish Wildcat Action will now examine the images as pure wildcats have a thick, ringed blunt tail with no stripe and tabby markings.
Hebe Carus, Scottish Wildcat Action officer, who is leading activity in the Angus Glens and Northern Strathspey areas, said: “Reliable identification requires having a variety of different views of the cat and looking for the seven main defining features.
“Only after analysing the pictures Bruce has sent can I confirm whether the cat displays all the defining features of a genuine Scottish wildcat.
“At the cameras there is also a scented post with Velcro on to capture hairs so we can analyse DNA. So far, we have no hairs to analyse, but we hope the cat returns so we get more photos and possibly a hair sample.”