Oldest wild cat in Netherlands run over by car in Limburg
The life of the oldest wild cat in the Netherlands has come to a tragic end. WK2 was run over on a provincial road near Nijswillier in Zuid-Limburg - the third time in five years that a wild cat has been killed by a vehicle on the N281, the Mammal Association told AD.
WK2 belonged to a group of rare old animals. The Felis silvestris was estimated to be at least 13 years old. “A very respectable age for a wild cat, which rarely exceeds ten years in the wild,” the Mammal Association said. The cat’s body was found on the N281 near Nijswiller, in the Vijenerbossen. Wild cats and pine martens are regularly run over on that 850-meter stretch.
The association gave WK2 a collar transmitter and followed it for several months with a GPS in 2014 and 2015, which is how the association now identified the animal. Eight years ago, WK2 was a big kitty weighing over 4.5 kilograms. “Definitely not a lap cat, but an impressive oversized wild cat,” the association said to AD. The cat weighed about the same when it died.
The wild cat is on the rise throughout Europe, but the population in the Netherlands is still small and vulnerable. According to research from 2017, about 14 wild cats live in the Netherlands. The animals now living in Zuid-Limburg originate from the Eifel or the Ardennes, where the species is successfully expanding. Because the population is growing there, young wild cats start roaming for their own habitat and a partner, which is how they end up in the Netherlands.
The Dutch Wildlife Health Center in Utrecht will examine the remains of WK2 before it is included in the Naturalis museum’s collection.