Community concerns over lynx release plan

A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen
A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen

A number of stakeholders in he rural community in the Kielder area have united over concerns surrounding the proposed lynx release.

As reported last month, the Lynx UK Trust has submitted an application to carry out a trial reintroduction of six Eurasian lynx to Kielder Forest.

More than 100 stakeholders living close to the proposed release site and further afield met in Elsdon last week for a discussion evening facilitated by the National Sheep Association (NSA) and other representative farming bodies, including the National Farmers Union and the British Deer Society.

NSA feels the debate so far has heavily focused on potential positives of such a release, with little consideration for evidence which suggests similar projects elsewhere in Europe have experienced limited success.

It feels releasing this predatory species puts at risk all the things that emanate from a successful sheep-farmed area – the landscape and its associated ecology and wildlife, local working communities and a vibrant rural economy.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: The UK’s ecology is built on huge diversity which is dependent on human management and farming in the majority of cases.

“This hierarchy of species interact with each other and we already have many examples where a lack of intervention and predator control result in the collapse of iconic birds and mammals such as the red squirrel and the curlew – two species that Northumberland is renowned for.

“The UK is very different from countries where top-level predators such as big cats can survive, in terms of land use, wildlife and our population and infrastructure.

“Lynx are known to prey on ground-nesting birds and small mammals and we are in danger of risking investment which has gone into making sure they have a future.”

NSA, in agreement with local stakeholders at last week’s meeting, feel a lynx release has the potential to threaten the essential function that sheep have in maintaining the landscape in the UK countryside.

The bid has been made to Natural England, which is the statutory body that will decide on the application.