Sturgeon at head of pack in wolf debate
Children write letters in favour of animal
Nicola Sturgeon has been taking time out of her busy schedule to respond to letters from children eager to see wolves reintroduced to the Highlands.
Documents show how the first minister wrote back to the youngsters after they drew cartoons for her in hand-written letters.
Ms Sturgeon responded to the most recent letter in June, as she was preparing to order her biggest Cabinet reshuffle since becoming SNP leader.
The youngster had attached photographs of wolves to the letter – which is marked “FM will reply” by civil servants – and wrote: “Dear First Minister.
“P l e a s e c a n y o u introduce European grey wolves to our conutry (sic). Wolves are interesting and they keep the deer levels down.
“The wolves were here long before we were and have a right to live here. We need 2m-high walls for farmers to protect the sheep and lambs in the farmlands.”
Ms Sturgeon responded, thanking the child for the letter, and added: “Although this idea may sound quite exciting, any plans to reintroduce wolves would have to be given careful thought. As you can imagine, farmers would be worried about the impact the wolves would have on their farm animals, especially the young; even the larger ones such as cows and horses would be at risk if the wolves were hungry and farmers would have to keep a constant eye on their livestock as 2 metre high fences would be too expensive to build.”
She added: “I hope you find this to be helpful and are looking forward to your summer holidays.”
The documents show it was not the first time Ms Sturgeon had responded to such a letter.
In July last year she wrote back to another child who had drawn a wolf and a cartoon of her “wolf pack”.
The youngster had written: “I think wolfs should be re-intrujust to Scotland because they are really nice to there pack and only attack if you attacked it.” Several so-called “rewilding” initiatives have been proposed for the Highlands in recent years.
Backers say reintroducing species such as lynx, wolves and even bears could deliver environmental benefits such as reducing the number of deer and increasing vegetation, while boosting the economy by providing a new tourist attraction.
But farmers and crofters have condemned the idea because of the threat to their livestock, and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said such species would be reintroduced “over my dead body”.
One scheme has suggested creating a fenced-off, 50,000-acre reserve that would be worth £6 million after a decade, and create about 37 full-time jobs.
However, Community Land Scotland, which represents the groups behind the public buy-outs of more than 500,000 acres of land, said it would create a “theme park” that would “exclude humans.
It added the idea “smacks of much that has been wrong with the Highlands over the past two centuries, with privileged elites seeking to live out their vision of the place”.
Concern has also been raised by walking groups and others about the infringement on Scotland’s right-to-roam laws.
APPEAL: The letter from the unnamed child asking for wolves to be brought back
Some children want wolves back in the wild