Farming groups have criticised the latest proposals to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx at a site in Scotland, amid fears over predation.
The Lynx UK Trust this week announced a public consultation on its proposals to use the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park as the first lynx reintroduction site in Scotland.
Lynx were wiped out in the UK as a result of fur hunting and loss of habitat around 1,300 years ago. A previous application by the trust to reintroduce lynx to Kielder was rejected.
National Sheep Association Scottish Region criticised the proposals and warned of the devastating effects a reintroduction could potentially have on sheep farmers.
Scottish Region chairman Jen Craig comments: “NSA Scottish Region will continue to represent the views of sheep farmers and crofters in Scotland who would be greatly impacted by any reintroduction of species into the country. The last consultation to date carried out by Lynx UK Trust was flawed and subsequently denied.
“It is also worth remembering that the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing has also made his disapproval of any reintroduction in the past quite clear and we will continue to ensure that view is maintained in Scotland. Yet another predator to our flocks is certainly not required in these very tumultuous times.”
Forestry and Land Scotland confirmed that it had not been approached to access land for a lynx trial and added: ‘@ScotGov has been clear there are no plans to reintroduce lynx or any other large carnivores into Scotland, including on any part of the land we manage.’
If permission were to be granted, Lynx UK Trust says it would release three lynx (one male, two female), at the park for a five year period, equipped with satellite collars to record their movements. However, community acceptance will be important to the proposed scheme.
Lynx UK Trust director Dr Paul O’Donoghue said: “ It is vital to point out that we hope to develop widespread community support for our plans. This will not be imposed on anyone, rather we see this as an opportunity to build strong networks with partners and stakeholders to deliver what is undoubtedly, the most exciting and large scale conservation project ever proposed in Scotland.”
A socially distanced public consultation will be held at Forth Inn, Main St, Aberfoyle, Stirling, FK8 3UQ on 9th September from 2-4pm.