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National Sheep Association Against Lynx Re-Wilding

26 March 2015

UK - The National Sheep Association (NSA) has announced its opposition to plans for the re-introduction of lynx to the UK.

NSA believes reintroducing lynx after more than 1,300 years of extinction will pose a threat to British livestock, and even trial work with the Wildcat could lead to predation of livestock, in particular, ewes and lambs.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, has written to James Cross, head at Natural England, and also Lord De Mauley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defra.

Mr Stocker said: “Our primary concern is that the lynx will threaten livelihoods and businesses within the farming industry. Ewes and lambs would be much easier prey than deer because they can’t get away so quickly.”

However, the Lynx UK Trust describes the wild cat as having a solitary and secretive nature, and say it is exceptionally rare for them to predate on agricultural animals. They hope that re-introduced lynx would help control deer numbers and a variety of agricultural pest species, whilst protecting forestry from deer damage caused by overpopulation.

Sheep farming members have expressed concern to the NSA since the conservation charity announced plans to submit an official application to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage.

The Lynx UK Trust hopes that, if successful, the lynx would then be reintroduced into three regions in Aberdeenshire, Cumbria and Suffolk.

Mr Stocker said: “We were heartened to receive a speedy response from Natural England, assuring us that, if and when it receives an application from the Lynx UK Trust, it will consult ‘all relevant parties’ and consider the socio-economic impacts of the reintroduction, as well as impacts on the environment and the animals themselves.

“This is vitally important, as the project will disrupt vulnerable ecosystems and challenge the viability of sheep farms. This will, in turn, have a damaging impact on farmers’ livelihoods and businesses if the lynx prey on sheep.”

Mr Stocker believes that the charity has not considered the long-term implications of the project. “The Lynx UK Trust is going to try to soften the blow by talking about a five-year project, but I think putting a stop to it after five years will be very difficult.

“I understand people’s interest in reintroducing extinct predators back into the countryside, however, we have to be practical and realistic, and look at how things have changed in the last 1,300 years.”

TheSheepSite News Desk

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