Wild lynx to be brought back to British countryside
Wild lynx could be allowed to roam the British countryside for the first time in almost 1,000 years under plans by a group of leading wildlife experts.
Senior biologists and cat specialists are this week due to apply for a license to reintroduce the cats, which can grow up to four feet in length, into an area of forest on the west coast of Scotland.
Under the plans, which have been backed by officials from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), two pairs of Eurasian lynx would be brought to this country from northern Europe.
A new charity, the Lynx UK Trust, has now been set up by the biologists to oversee the project. They are to submit an official application for a permit to Scottish Natural Heritage, which regulates species reintroduction in Scotland.
The initial reintroduction would act as trial to see whether lynx could then be reintroduced to other areas of the country including parts of Wales and northern England.
The plan, however, is expected to be controversial with farmers and some land owners, who will see the lynx as a threat to livestock and grouse.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, a wildcat expert who is leading the project, insisted that the lynx would bring more benefits than harm to the areas where they are reintroduced.
He said: “We have been looking at the prospect of Lynx reintroduction for a while and now is the right time. “This will be the most exciting and ambitious conservation project ever carried out in the UK. We have identified several areas of land and are in advanced stages of discussion with land owners.
“These animals mainly prey on deer and in many areas of the country deer numbers are out of control – they are holding back the regeneration of forest because of the damage they can do.
“Lynx will play an essential ecological role that will promote biodiversity.”
Eurasian lynx are mainly found in the forests of Russia, Scandinavia and the Carpathian Mountains of Eastern Europe, although they were recently reintroduced to Switzerland.
earth/wildlife/10080527/ Wild-lynx-to-be-brought-back-to -British-countryside.html?fb