Lynx UK Trust has announced it will insure the entire sheep population against lynx attacks.
An agreement with a specialist division of Lloyds of London, Lloyds Syndicate ARK Speciality Programs, committed to insure the sheep through a trial period if the proposed six lynx are introduced to Kelder Forest.
Farmers have already been promised compensation for any attacks that do occur, grants to improve sheep welfare and research into reducing sheep predation by all species.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, Lynx UK Trust chief scientific advisor, urged farmers to dispel their concern.
He said: “Some farmers have suggested it will be impossible to fund a compensation program, even though in reality such funds rarely cost more than 1,000 euros a year on the continent.
“This will hopefully give them a great deal of confident if the largest insurance market in the world is offering to cover any kind of attacks on livestock by lynx during a trial.”
The Lynx UK Trust said farmers were ‘staunchly opposed’ to the reintroduction but Mr O’Donoghue encouraged the insurance would be a ‘game changer’.
“The extensive cover provided by Lloyds of London is a massive game changer in our campaign to bring lynx back to the UK where they rightly belong,” he added.
“I honestly now find it very hard to see any reason why we should not get a license from Natural England; there can be no question that compensation is now affordable and we will stand by our promises for farmer’s grants and anti-predation studies. We can make this work for everyone.”
Richard Bryant, head of ARK Speciality, pushed for the insurance to add further support to the possibility of a trial going ahead.
He said he was confident sheep attacks would be rare but was ‘excited’ to be part of the first lynx reintroduction scheme to use insurance.
He added: “We are excited and privileged to be working in partnership with the Lynx UK Trust to successfully reintroduce the lynx, and I hope this insurance will provide sound financial security for the Trust so they will be able to generously compensate farmers if any of their sheep are injured or killed.”
Lynx UK Trust are still waiting for a decision from Natural England.