Thursday, 28 July 2016

Campaigners seek to reintroduce Eurasian lynx to parts of Britain

Charity begins local consultation on plan to introduce 10 Eurasian lynxes back into wild in north of England and southern Scotland

Sunday 24 July 201615.53 BST Last modified on Sunday 24 July 201616.10 BST

Lynx could soon be reintroduced to the north of England and southern Scotland as the charity campaigning for the return of the wild mammal, which was last seen across Britain around 700AD, launches its final stage of a consultation.

The project to introduce 10 Eurasian lynxes back into the wild, which has also considered sites in Aberdeenshire, will this week begin discussions with farmers and tourist operators around Kielder Forest in Northumberland.

Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific adviser of the Lynx UK Trust, described the cross-border site and the largest forested area in Britain as ideal because of its low human population density, limited road networks and large deer populations.

Following this local consultation, which is expected to last two to three months, the trust will submit its licence application to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage in the autumn, and expects a “speedy and positive” response.

It will source lynx for the trial while the application is being considered, and O’Donoghue said the animals could be reintroduced “as soon as practicably possible”.

The Eurasian lynx, which were hunted for their highly prized pelts, have been successfully reintroduced in northern Germany, where 14 of the cats introduced in 2000 have grown to a population of up to 100.

Their preferred diet of roe deer makes them popular with the rewilding movement, which argues for the reintroduction of apex predators in order to control herbivore populations, promote forest growth and reinvigorate ecosystems.

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