Publication - FOI/EIR release

Scottish wildcat information and statistics: EIR release

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Published:
20 May 2021
Scottish wildcat information and statistics: EIR release
FOI reference: FOI/202100194009
Date received: 18 Mar 2021
Date responded: 21 Apr 2021
Information requested
  • What is the definition of wildcat (pelage and genetic thresholds) currently being deployed by the Scottish Government/agencies?
  • What is the latest data on working population estimate (range quoted of 30 – 400)?
  • What is the current scope of any trapping licences the Scottish Government/agencies have granted for the removal of wildcats from the wild?
  • What is the current data on the number of wildcats that have been removed from the wild in Scotland? Where have these been from, broadly?
  • How many wildcats have been taken from the wild for the captive breeding programme by NatureScot.
  • In light of the information shared during the meeting on the work of WildCRU, how many areas are they working in using GPS to track wildcat populations? It would be useful to understand their coverage.
  • Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to check study outputs and advise correct figures from thestudy at Clashindarroch.
  • FLS to share copies of pro-forma risk assessments (if unable to disclose in full).
Response

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I attach some of the information you have requested.

You asked Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to check study outputs and advise correct figures from the study at Clashindarroch.

  • The figure of 4 referred to was the actual number of wildcats with a high pelage score identified in any one calendar year during surveys carried out by Scottish Wildcat Action in Clashindarroch.
     
  • The figure of 6 refers to the total number of cats tagged within the Strathbogie Priority Area, as part of a study being conducted by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University. All of the collared individuals had a hybrid score below 0.75 and thereby failed to meet the genetic threshold of a wildcat; indicating they were wildcat hybrids. The genetic tests were carried out by the WildGenes Laboratory of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

You also asked FLS to share copies of pro-forma risk assessments.

Information on FLS’s Operational Site Planning is available on the FLS website at: https://forestryandland.gov.scot/what-we-do/planning.

Please see sample documents attached, including:

  • Work Plan Guidance on Environment Considerations
  • Forestry Contractors Handout
  • Sample Site Risk Assessment & Safety Rules

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not hold some of the information you have requested. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs.

This exception is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information relating to wildcats, including population figures in Scotland, the number of licences issued, the definition of wildcats, the use of GPS to track wildcats, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
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