Lynx proposed for Kielder
Landowners are treating with caution news that the Lynx UK Trust has opened a consultation on a proposed release of the wild cats around Kielder in northumberland. The charity intends to apply for a licence this year to reintroduce lynx for a five-year trial period and will host an informal question-and-answer session in the area on august 11 (visit www.lynxuk.org for details). Lynx were hunted to extinction in Britain by about the 8th century, but are still common in the huge forests of northern europe, where sheep farmers warn of the damage they can do. Much is made of the animals’ potential value to tourism, but lynx are shy, nocturnal creatures. They could aid in reducing the muntjac population, but would predate ground-nesting birds and lambs.
The CLA is asking to see an exit strategy. ‘If we use figures from norway, then a UK population of 400 lynx could result in the predation of up to 4,000 sheep each year, requiring compensation to farmers of up to £560,000 per year,’ points out director of policy Christopher Price. ‘with no indication that the UK government would fund any compensation scheme, the Lynx Trust must demonstrate it has the financial capacity to meet this cost in perpetuity.’
The national sheep association has expressed dismay. ‘we do not share their [the trust’s] belief that the UK has any suitable locations. we’re too small an island and too densely populated,’ says chief executive Phil stocker.
The project would require a licence from scottish natural heritage and natural england, which has previously indicated that the one granted for the reintroduction of beavers in devon was a one-off.