With proposals to reintroduce animals extinct in Scotland back into the Highlands in the news, a call has been made for the Borders to do the same.
Peter Clarke, a former environment policy advisor to the Thatcher government, is the spokesman for a group campaigning for the reintroduction of once native species such as wolves, bears, boars and lynx.
His controversial views – and those of others supportive of the aims of the Wild Beasts Trust – have been reported before, but have been pushed back into the spotlight after Sutherland estate owner, Paul Lister, pledged to forge ahead with his long-standing plans to introduce bears and wolves to his land.
He said: “We’re going to do a feasibility study on the big vision and the vision is to have a minimum area of 50,000 acres, have a fence around it, and bring back wolves and bears into that area,”
Mr Clarke, who lives at Kirkhope near Selkirk, says Mr Lister’s aims should be supported.
“The wolf carries a certain folklore fear – Little Red Riding Hood and ferocious fanged beasts. The reality is much more modest,” he said.
“The prime case is they would rebalance nature by reducing the excess deer population. But I reckon SNH [Scottish Natural Heritage] and timid politicians will block Paul unless he can really secure miles of fencing.
“A far better candidate, because it carries no cultural baggage, is the lynx.”
Mr Clarke says the Borders would be ideal for a similar scheme. He added: “I feel a few additions to our wild Borders would add romance to the landscape.
“We are competitors with the Highlands, but they have the greater reputation for remote beauty.
“Bison roaming the Southern Upland Way would enhance the experience of the walk. As for bears, I’m all for them. Nobody goes in fear of them in those parts of Europe where they exist .
“Bears would need more mixed woodland than we really have, but wolves and lynx would adapt well to the Southern Uplands.”