Sheep farmers in and around Kielder Forest have teamed up to ‘set the record straight’ on Lynx UK Trust.
Dennis Salt, who farms sheep and cattle on fell land between Otterburn and Rochester, Northumberland, said the Trust’s suggestion that 100 per cent of landowners had given the green light for the trial of six Eurasian lynx in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, ‘really did frighten people’.
He said: “With that I got straight in the pick-up and went to 10 landowners but did not find a single one who was happy for its go-ahead.”
Mr Salt said the community, who had got together with the National Sheep Association for a meeting on the issue last week, were concerned the predator would be on the cusp of private or tenanted farmland where the Trust does not have permission for release.
“The general feeling is there is a lot of dislike with Lynx UK Trust as it has gone a step too far this time and upset a lot of local landowners,” said Mr Salt, who reiterated the Trust was a community interest group and not a charity.
“A lot of people feel that they have gone over the heads of local landowners and Natural England and are instead working right at the top where the decisions are being made.
“They are not working with the local people because the local people do not want them. It is unbelievably devious what they are doing.”
Mr Salt highlighted Farmers Guardian’s interview with Defra non-executive board member Ben Goldsmith (April 27) and his support for the reintroduction of the lynx, which he said the community and local MP Guy Opperman were ‘not in favour of’.
He said Scottish farmers also feared the reintroduction after receiving no communication from the Trust, despite predictions that about 30 lynx could be roaming the Forest, which borders Scotland, by the end of the five-year trial.
“The feeling is if lynx are released in England, within the first day they will be in Scotland,” Mr Salt added.
Hamish Waugh, who farms 600 North Country Cheviot ewes on 464-hectares of hill-grazed land bodering the park near Langholm, Dumfriesshire, said he was concerned about the financial impact.
“Because the Eurasian lynx is an opportunistic killer I have every reason to believe sheep may well feature fairly high on their menu, especially when there is such an abundance of them,” he said.
Veronica and Brian de Sully, who own a sheep farm in Kielder Forest, echoed the comments with suggestions neither Lynx UK Trust or any other organisation had asked for their opinion on the release.
Mrs de Sully said: “We are totally opposed to the introduction of the lynx into the forest; the lynx being a long extinct alien species.
“No-one knew of any landowners who had been consulted and no-one at the meeting had been approached for their views.
“Lynx UK Trust’s statements regarding consultation do not appear to have any credence.”