As reports emerge to suggest the rewilding debate is widening to include wolves, the National Sheep Association is raising serious concerns.
The NSA understands a pack of wolf cubs has been imported to a wildlife park in Devon as the first step in ultimately introducing the animals into the wild. The cubs are being monitored by scientists in captivity but, as with the lynx, no release license has been applied for.
However, there are still big questions over the processes and proposals around releasing lynx to the wild, in areas including Kielder.
It is still not clear if and when the Lynx UK Trust will make an application for a release licence for Lynx, but NSA feels the necessary consultation process to support such an application has not been adhered to so far. Communication so far has not been transparent and Lynx UK’s local consultation meetings not publicised well enough to allow all stakeholders to attend.
Opinions from residents in Kielder were recently gathered by local MP Guy Opperman, with results of a small survey showing 97% of individuals in villages closest to the release site were opposed to the proposals.
Phil Stocker NSA chief executive, said: “The beauty of an area like Kielder already provides a stunning example of the countryside we enjoy in the UK that has been formed by centuries of farming, grazing and human activity. We stand to lose much more than just sheep if farm businesses cannot continue in the face of lynx introduction.”
Lynx UK’s website states: “We intend to apply for a licence in 2017 to trial the reintroduction of lynx to the wild for a period of five years; recognising that this is a significant step for both conservation and ecological science in the UK, we are currently carrying out a detailed and pro-active stakeholder consultation.”