Re-introducing Lynx would require considerable planning

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 6 May 2015 in News

SNH warns campaigners need to address concerns over habitat and effect on land management before re-introducing Lynx 

Any attempt to re-introduce the Lynx into Scotland would need considerable planning, according to Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The response follows a poll from Lynx UK Trust showing 91 per cent of people support a trial re-introduction, with 84 per cent saying it should begin within the next 12 months.

SNH has stated that it would require information on how the project would affect habitats and how it would take account of the views of livestock and land managers before any trial went ahead.

It also warned that any attempt to release Lynx into Scotland would be unlawful without a license.

The National Sheep Association warned against a reintroduction, with chief executive Phil Stocker arguing Scotland is not ready for “the savages of a big game reserve”.

Andrew Bachell, SNH’s director of policy and advice, said: “The Eurasian lynx has been extinct from the UK for about 1300 years and releasing them into the wild in Scotland is unlawful without a licence from SNH. We know, on the basis of experience, that reintroduction projects are complex and need considerable planning to ensure national and international guidelines are met.

“Scotland’s National Species Reintroduction Forum is a world leader in how reintroductions are determined and has produced the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations specifically designed to guide project development.

“If we received an application to reintroduce lynx, we would be looking for the applicant to provide information on how the project would address ecological issues such as habitat availability, as well as the views of the public, livestock and land managers, the wider UK perspective, and any socio-economic impacts.

“The views of the Scottish Government would need to be taken into consideration. A significant amount of evidence is required to support an application.

“The Lynx Trust have requested a meeting with SNH to discuss how these conditions might be met.”

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “NSA has asked the organisation [Lynx UK Trust] to stop seeking largely disconnected public support and move forward with a license application, to enable a proper and appropriate consideration of the short-term and long-term economic, environmental and social implications.

“It is clear to see from the generally positive response to lynx reintroduction plans that it is very easy to promote a nice image for the general public around the ‘big cat’. However, these animals are high level predators whose reintroduction would directly impact on sheep farmers and related businesses.

“Lynx UK Trust will soon find itself in a situation where it has huge public support but has alienated farmers, land managers and those who depend on the land for their livelihoods.”

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