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THE Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) remains the most endangered feline species in the world. Currently, with reintroduction and captive breeding programmes underway, the increasing population size of the Iberian lynx qualified them to be downlisted from Critically Endangered to Endangered in 2015 (UICN, 2015). However, the species is still at high risk of serious decline in the absence of conservation actions. Mortality due to pathogens has been attributed, among others, to feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), Mycobacterium bovis and canine distemper virus (CDV) (Martín-Atance and others 2006, López and others 2009, Meli and others 2009). Additionally, many other potential pathogens have been detected in both Iberian lynx and sympatric small carnivores (Meli and others 2009, Millán and others 2009, García-Bocanegra and others 2010). Due to the Iberian lynx’s aggressive behaviour and interactions with other wild and domestic species, the risk of exposure to pathogen agents is high in this species (Millán and others 2009, Meli and others 2009).
During the last decade, captive breeding programmes for the Iberian lynx have been implemented in order to liberate healthy individuals into selected reintroduction areas, and translocations of lynxes are being carried out to reinforce the genetic diversity and number of lynxes in reintroduction areas. A key aspect in the success of these reintroduction programmes is to assess the health status of both the target and sympatric species. In this study, the authors aimed to infer on the presence of active infection of selected pathogens in sympatric small carnivore species within two reintroductions areas for the Iberian lynx.
A total of 147 animals, including 47 domestic cats (Felis catus), 24 domestic dogs (Canis familiaris), 20 genets (Genetta genetta), 17 red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), 17 stone martens …