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  1. ITV Report

Wildcats to be reintroduced in Cumbria and southern Scotland

A population of wildcat has not been present in Britain for over three hundred years. Photo: PA

A plan to reintroduce the UK's most endangered animal to Cumbria and southern Scotland has been launched.

The wildcat has not been seen in England for three hundred years and now, conservationists, Wildcat Haven, have announced a plan that may establish a new population.

Credit: PA

The group has spent the last decade trying to save the Scottish Wildcat across the Highlands. Focusing first on Galloway, they hope the British Wildcat Project will help the population grow in the north of England and southern Scotland.

Dr Paul O'Donoghue, Chief Scientific Advisor with Wildcat Haven, says the British ecology would benefit from the reintroduction of the predator as they could help to control the numbers of other species such as rabbits.

Wildcats across England were wiped out because of human persecution and loss of habitat.

The wildcat is the UK's most endangered animal, and it's probably the most charismatic and iconic species that has managed to cling on here against all odds; they're incredible survivors and I have no doubt they can thrive in forests like Kielder in Northumberland, Ennerdale in Cumbria, and Galloway in the Southern Uplands. The British Wildcat Project is the beginning of a conservation and rewilding mega-project."

– DR PAUL O'DONOGHUE, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR WITH WILDCAT HAVEN