2016-08-19   facebooktwitterrss

Meeting Highlights Concerns about Proposed Lynx Release

The economic, environmental and social consequences of releasing lynx into the UK countryside where highlighted at a National Sheep Association (NSA) meeting, held in partnership with the British Deer Society (BDS) in the Scottish Borders on Wednesday 17th August.

The meeting at St Boswells was organised in response to Lynx UK Trust announcing Kielder Forest as its preferred site for a trial release programme. The event chaired by Sybil Macpherson, NSA Scottish Region Chairman and Argyllshire sheep farmer, brought together some 10 organisations and many more individuals involved in farming, tourism, animal welfare, land management, field sports and conservation.

Lynx

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, reports:
“The discussions led to us learning there is substantial and widespread concern over the implications of releasing lynx, and also concern over the way Lynx UK is going about its work. Very valid points were raised in areas of strong public interest that go way beyond the losses that will be suffered by sheep farmers.

“NSA has been very concerned the Lynx UK Trust would either orchestrate for its own, biased research to be used as the public consultation and/or apply to only one licencing body despite the proposed release site falling under the remit of both Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage. I now feel confident that NSA would be far from the only group opposed to those two things, and believe there is willingness within the Scottish and English licensing bodies to be communicating together.”

No formal application has yet been made for the pilot release, which NSA understands is being proposed for 10 animals in Kielder Forest, five of each sex. NSA has voiced its concerns to Lynx UK Trust, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, and will continue to oppose the proposals if and when a licence application is made. NSA attended a Lynx UK Trust meeting in Kielder last week and was dismayed to see how the group was using its own consultation work and results interpretation to garner support for the proposals.

Mr Stocker adds:
“The process adopted by Lynx UK is flawed and misleading and cannot be used as the legally required independent public consultation that must be carried out when the reintroduction of a lost species is considered. It is essential any consultation is impartially conducted by an organisation that would attract unbiased responses. NSA has tried on many occasions to engage with Lynx UK and, following its meeting last week, where it attempted to misrepresent NSA’s position, has severed tied with the trust.

“This country is a very different place to how it was 1,300 years ago and NSA does not believe we have enough largescale, suitable habitat to support the minimum population of 250 lynx that is needed for true genetic sustainability. We do not believe claims that say lynx will only predate some 0.4 sheep each per year, as evidence in other parts of the world (and more recently on Dartmoor where an escaped Lynx killed four sheep in three weeks) demonstrates that such theoretic claims are nonsense.

“The UK countryside is stunningly beautiful and already provides the foundation for tourism and local economies – but our iconic landscapes, environment and rural communities have been created largely by centuries of farming, grazing and human activity, at the same time as keeping people fed from the land. Introducing lynx would jeopardise that delicate and essential balance.”

NSA

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link Heated Discussion at Kielder Lynx Meeting