The National Sheep Association (NSA) has rejected an invitation from the Lynx UK Trust to join its Project Advisory Group tasked with designing the pilot scheme to introduce the high level predator into the countryside.
Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “Our understanding is the Project Advisory Group will design the trial that will only go ahead if Lynx UK is successful in gaining a licence from Natural England and/or Scottish Natural Heritage. We feel it is inappropriate for NSA to provide guidance to Lynx UK ahead of that licence application, as we remain opposed to any pilot taking place.”
Mr Stocker added: “NSA does not feel the meeting with Lynx UK adequately responded to the concerns of sheep farmers, which are not limited solely to the predation of lynx on sheep. We continue to have genuine concerns about the wider impact lynx would have on the delicate balance of food production, environment and rural communities in the countryside, as well as implications for animal welfare and disease control. We remain opposed to the pilot and do not agree with Lynx UK that we should help design the trial in order to determine the criteria by which it would be deemed a success or failure.
“Our work will now continue to highlight issues with the three sites in Northern England and Scotland still under consideration for this project.”
While NSA is strongly opposed to the impact such a reintroduction would have on the welfare of sheep, it has also raised concerns about the welfare of lynx being released within Great Britain, which is a small, heavily populated island with massive urban and transport infrastructures. NSA believes this is why the Lynx UK Trust has been forced to remove two locations from its original list of five suitable sites for the pilot.