The European wildcat (felis silvestris) has returned to the Netherlands and is nesting in dense woodland in Limburg, the provincial council said on Friday. Photographs of a wildcat were taken by secret camera in the Heuvelland region near Epen in mid-December.
The wildcat, which looks like a large domestic tabby cat, has not been a part of Dutch wildlife since Roman times, news agency ANP reported.
The wildcat used to be common all over Europe but was largely wiped out as a result of the destruction of its forest habitat. Small populations have remained in north-eastern France, the Belgian Ardennes and the Eifel region in Germany.
Limburg province said the discovery of wildcats was not altogether unexpected. Four years ago a dead wildcat was found near the town of Vaals. The return of this anmial, which hunts for mice in open pasture and uses trees and old badger sets as hiding places, is a sign that efforts to improve the quality of Limburg’s woodland is working, the council said.
Limburg is also home to the rare korenwolf, or wild hamster, which was successfully reintroduced following a captive breeding programme.
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