Lynx to be reintroduced into Britain after 1,300 years


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The lynx is one of the most beautiful cats.  We should know as it is ‘harvested‘ annually, year-on-year, for its coat in North America (including the bobcat, a subspecies of lynx). I won’t delve into that today but say that plans are afoot to rewild three forests in Britain with the lynx which was made extinct some 1,300 years ago on these islands.

There are two schools of thought about this. One the one hand there is the argument that the presence of the lynx is good for tourism and for helping to control deer populations. There are more than one million deer in the UK. The muntjac deer (from Asia) can have a severe impact on ground nesting birds. Controlling deer naturally makes sense over expensive control programmes.

One the other hand the farmers will no doubt complain about loss of livestock, such as sheep, through lynx predation. They need not worry because the financial burden to them is very slight because this sort of lynx predation is rare based on areas in Poland and Romania, and in any case there will be a compensation scheme. The businesses who run pheasant shoots and the like may complain as well but overall there are real financial benefits. Financial gain is the world’s best motivator.

The estates where they are to be released are unfenced. They are in Norfolk, Cumbria and Aberdeenshire. The Lynx UK Trust is seeking public reaction to the idea before applying formally to Natural England and Scottish Heritage. These are the government agencies in charge of rewilding.

Under the plan, 4-6 lynx wearing radio tracking collars would be released at each of the three sites. There are four subspecies of lynx and they vary in size. The Eurasian lynx is the largest at up to about 66 pounds and I’ll presume it is this species which would be released into these forests. They are about 27 inches tall and 30-50 inches long. The size of a decent-sized dog.

Tony Marmont who owns the Aberdeenshire site, Grumack Forest, selected for rewilding says:

“Lynx will have an extremely beneficial effect on our forest ecosystems, both directly and as ambassadors for wider conservation projects. I also believe we should try and reintroduce an animal that humans made extinct here.”

Dr Ian Conver of Cumbria University says:

“There is compelling evidence from elsewhere that carnivore reintroductions can benefit both ecosystems and the economy.”

Erwin van Maanen of the Rewilding Foundation says:

“These beautiful animals help bring rural places back to life and generate extra income for local people.”

May it happen, I say. I think it is an excellent idea. I’d be one of the tourists.

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4 thoughts on “Lynx to be reintroduced into Britain after 1,300 years”

  1. When wolves were re-introduced into Yellowstone Park in 1995 it brought some unexpected benefits. The wolves were originally brought into to control elk numbers, but it restored a more natural balance to the rivers, plants, forests etc., within the park.

    I would love to see Lynx again in Britain. It could be good for tourism and our ecosystem. We just need to ensure that a heavy fine or prison term is automatically handed out to anyone who might try to hunt them.

    Michael do you know if the Lynx UK Trust are running any kind of on-line poll or petition to canvass public opinion?

    1. Michele, I don’t know of a poll or online questionnaire or whatever.

      It have heard about the wolf rewilding. It is good to see. I bet there were some objections though. The wolf was almost exterminated as I understand it. Not a good natural relationship between wolf and human.

      I’d be more proud of Britain if we have some more large wild species. We wiped them all out centuries ago.

      There is a problem though with a rapidly increasing human population. With the lynx, we’d have the same sort of clashes between lynx and human as takes places all the time between tiger and human in Bangladesh and India.

      Perhaps one day the north of Scotland will become a huge nature reserve for British large wild species provided they can accept the weather.

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