THE CARNIVORES OF WALES COLIN MATHESON Keeper of the Department of Zoology, National Museum of Wales THE Carnivores of Wales today number seven species-the Fox, the Pine Marten, the Polecat, the Stoat, the Weasel, the Badger and the Otter. Within historic times there were also the Wild Cat and the Wolf, but the former seems to have become extinct in Wales during the nineteenth century, though stories of Wild Cats" still crop up from time to time such stories, so far as the writer's experience goes, always turning out to refer to feral specimens of the domestic animal. The Wolf, despite traditions of its survival until the eighteenth century, probably disappeared from Wales in the previous century at latest. Its relative the Fox, however, now our only wild representative of the Canidae or Dog family, survives in large numbers. During and since the last war, Foxes multiplied greatly in many parts of Wales, and their numbers are suggested by the fact that during the period January 1949 to October 1950 inclusive, according to figures supplied me by the Infestation Control Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, 15,209 are known to have been destroyed in Wales and Monmouthshire. It would be misleading in some cases to compare the figures for individual counties as criteria of the relative abundance of the Fox in them but the fact that 2,593 were accounted for in one of the hilly counties of North Wales and only one in Anglesey does reflect the truth, that the Fox was abun- dant in the former and practically unknown in the latter. Informa- tion received later suggests that even the one solitary Anglesey specimen was an escaped domestic pet. All our other carnivores belong to the family Mustelidae. Of the status of our rarest species, the Pine Marten, little can be said except that it is probably more frequent than is generally realized. Recent reports of this beautiful and elusive creature from Carm- arthenshire and even Glamorgan may be true the animal is a great wanderer, and the plantations established by the Forestry Commission may have favoured its spread. Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire in North Wales, and Breconshire in South Wales, are counties from which there are definite records in recent years. A Breconshire Marten sent to the National Museum of Wales in 1950 was stated to have been caught in a rabbit snare." It may be noted that whereas the Marten seems to survive in parts of Scot- land in greater numbers than anywhere in Wales, the Polecat, common in central Wales, is apparently quite extinct in Scotland. The latter species indeed may be regarded as practically unique to Wales today in England, if it survives at all, it is only in small numbers in a few districts. Any records from outside Wales and its immediate borders, and for that matter some of the records