The consequences of reintroducing lynx to Scotland have yet to be fully understood, landowners have warned. The concerns were raised by Scottish Land & Estates as part of a national consultation conducted by the Lynx UK Trust, an organisation that wants to reintroduce Eurasian lynx to areas in Aberdeenshire, Argyll and the Borders. The body is seeking views prior to submitting an application for a licence to conduct a trial reintroduction. The full consultation response can be found at the bottom of this page.
Scottish Land & Estates has said that whilst the reintroduction of former native species to Scotland is a worthwhile topic for debate, there are serious concerns about the robustness of the public attitudes and economic studies that support this proposal on lynx.
The landowners’ organisation added that the willingness for the public purse to support a long-term livestock compensation scheme, and the ecological benefits of reintroducing lynx, had yet to be fully examined.
Anne Gray, Policy Officer (Environment) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The suggestion to reintroduce lynx has already received significant media attention but we do not believe the evidence provided currently supports such a proposal.
“We have a varied membership, a number of whom are focused on conservation as their primary activity, but the importance of traditional businesses such as agriculture and forestry to our membership and rural areas need to be taken account of.
“It is not clear how extensively lynx would impact on such sectors and we feel that the Lynx UK Trust’s proposal down plays some of the possible negatives that may arise.
“For example, much of the countryside that surrounds the Kielder Forest is used for sheep grazing and the sheep kill rate of 0.19 per lynx per annum provided by the report seems unusually low compared to a European average of 0.40 per lynx, per year. Indeed, we would have expected the rates to be higher than the European average, given that the report itself says kill rates tend to be higher on the forest edge. The report also fails to address other issues including the cost of vet bills and other measures that would need to be taken to secure the safety of livestock.”
“The timing of this proposal is not ideal either. The Scottish Government has still to make a decision on the future of beaver reintroduction in Scotland. If beaver are to stay, discussions about their management will begin in earnest and may take some time to conclude. Appetite for a new reintroduction will be poor until we have solid foundations in place for current projects.
“We also have to think about existing native species that are struggling to hang on, such as the Scottish Wildcat and the Red Squirrel. Scottish Land & Estates support projects that are critical to the long-term survival of both these species and we wouldn’t want to see limited resources being diverted away for this work.
“Overall, we feel many of the potential benefits of lynx reintroduction are overstated. We do not believe the public support as quantified by Lynx UK Trust is accurate, and we are not convinced of the benefits to lynx conservation itself of some of the proposed reintroduction sites.”