Public asked for views on reintroducing lynx
FARMERS, landowners and the public have the chance to give their views about a project to reintroduce lynx into the wild.
The Lynx UK Trust is seeking to be granted a licence to conduct a regulated scientific trial, studying the effects of Eurasian lynx, and one of the chosen sites is at Kielder.
Analysis of the net economic benefits for Kielder show this could be £30.5m. This is partly a result of new opportunities in tourism and recreation around the study sites.
The trust is hosting a meeting in Langholm community centre tomorrow at 7.30pm to brief the public on what it is proposing and give people a chance to ask questions.
At the meeting will be Ian Convery, consultation specialist from the University of Cumbria, and Deborah Brady, Kielder project officer, along with other experts from the Lynx UK Trust's team.
Adam Eagle, project manager of the Lynx UK Trust, who prepared the report on the trial reintroduction, said: "The meetings vary, depending on who turns up. It may be farmers with concerns or it may be businesses keen to talk about how they can benefit from the proposal.
"Usually, we do a power point presentation with diagrams and maps. We explain how we came to choose Kielder and the Scottish Borders over other areas and where else lynx live in Europe. It also includes a discussion of lynx ecology, the economic analysis and other key areas.
"People can ask questions or just come along to find out more about it. Everyone is welcome."
Lynx were widespread in Britain but human activities, like deforestation, hunting and trapping led to its extinction.
Mr Eagle said: "Subsequently, the UK has experienced extensive reforestation, a significant shift in hunting practices and a cessation of fur trapping and trading.
"Therefore, the lynx are now likely to thrive in many areas of Scotland and England, especially given the over-abundance of prey species which include, almost exclusively, species of deer."
On the threat to humans, he said: "The lynx has co-existed with human populations in Europe, Asia and North America for thousands of years.
"Despite this there are no documented cases of a healthy wild lynx, a relatively small cat weighing 18 to 40kgs, ever attacking a human."
Concerns about sheep predation are common. Comparable European projects have shown that, inmost cases, lynx, which are forest-dwelling cats, do not predate on sheep at all, although in certain areas low levels of predation can occur.
The trust will offer a generous compensation scheme to farmers who lose sheep to lynx.
An increase in game birds is also predicted. A drop in deer numbers will help regenerate forests and scrub and predation on foxes will help build bird numbers.