credit - Liz Scott Art

Devon Wildlife Trust is leading a study exploring the viability of bringing back European wildcats (Felis sylvestris) to the south west, and the public are invited to share your views.

The South West Wildcat Project is investigating the feasibility of reintroducing European wildcats (Felis silvestris) to South West England, after work by Vincent Wildlife Trust and Durrell identified it as an area with the potential to support wildcats.

At this stage, no wildcat releases are planned, and the eighteen-month feasibility will report its findings by the end of 2024. The Project, which includes Devon Wildlife Trust, Forestry England, and the Derek Gow Consultancy, will consider whether to develop a project proposal in response to the findings.

Wildcats historically lived throughout England and Wales until the mid-1800s. Persecution and habitat fragmentation resulted in them becoming extinct. A critically endangered wildcat population remains in Scotland and is the subject of conservation action.

The University of Exeter is undertaking a public opinion survey to better understand perspectives on wildcats, and whether a reintroduction is socially feasible. A first part of this study has already taken place into stakeholder viewpoints, the outcomes of which have informed the design of this new survey.

Results will be presented in a summary report to be shared with the South West Wildcat Project, and will be made publicly available later this year.

Cath Jeffs is Devon Wildlife Trust’s South West Wildcat Project lead. Cath said: “Returning the native wildcat to the South West is an exciting prospect but will only be possible with the support of local communities. 

“We are hoping that lots of people will take part in the survey to help us understand both whether there would be support for bringing wildcats back, and any concerns and potential impacts that would need to be considered. I am really looking forward to seeing the results.” 

All residents in the South West are invited to take part, and the survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete. All views are welcome. 

Separately from this study, the South West Wildcat Project are also leading a series of their own engagement activities with stakeholder groups.

To take part, please visit: The link will remain open for one month, until 9am on Thursday 23rd May 2024. Responses are anonymous. 

The University of Exeter is leading this survey and have been funded by the South West Wildcat Project. The research team will be undertaking analysis independently.

For more information about the South West Wildcat Project, please visit . For more information about the survey specifically, please email