UK - The economic, environmental and social consequences of releasing lynx into the UK countryside where highlighted at a National Sheep Association (NSA) meeting, held in partnership with the British Deer Society (BDS) in the Scottish Borders last week.
The meeting at St Boswells was organised in response to Lynx UK Trust announcing Kielder Forest as its preferred site for a trial release programme.
Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports: “The discussions led to us learning there is substantial and widespread concern over the implications of releasing lynx, and also concern over the way Lynx UK is going about its work. Very valid points were raised in areas of strong public interest that go way beyond the losses that will be suffered by sheep farmers.
“NSA has been very concerned the Lynx UK Trust would either orchestrate for its own, biased research to be used as the public consultation and/or apply to only one licencing body despite the proposed release site falling under the remit of both Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage. I now feel confident that NSA would be far from the only group opposed to those two things, and believe there is willingness within the Scottish and English licensing bodies to be communicating together.”
No formal application has yet been made for the pilot release, which NSA understands is being proposed for 10 animals in Kielder Forest, five of each sex.
Mr Stocker added: “This country is a very different place to how it was 1,300 years ago and NSA does not believe we have enough largescale, suitable habitat to support the minimum population of 250 lynx that is needed for true genetic sustainability.
“The UK countryside is stunningly beautiful and already provides the foundation for tourism and local economies – but our iconic landscapes, environment and rural communities have been created largely by centuries of farming, grazing and human activity, at the same time as keeping people fed from the land. Introducing lynx would jeopardise that delicate and essential balance.”
TheSheepSite News Desk