Lynx UK Trust has this week come under fire from the sheep industry after kick starting its application for a trial introduction of wild cats.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) previously raised concerns the five-year trial in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, had ignored local opposition and has since feared the release could see a more permanent takeover.
If approved by Natural England, the UK-first application will grant the release of six Eurasian lynx to boost wild cat population and combat the rising number of wild deer.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “Any piecemeal sanctioning of small projects which are part of a much wider debate that has not yet been properly conducted would be irresponsible and inexcusable.
“It is almost inconceivable that once released the lynx would ever be removed and therefore we do not accept this is a pilot project, it is a release.”
The application warned although all releases would take place in England, it was likely the lynx could cross the border into Scotland.
Mr Stocker hit back in worry the impact of food security, protected species status and land use balance had not been properly considered.
He added: “This country is a very different place to what it was 1,300 years ago and NSA does not believe we have enough largescale, suitable habitat to support the minimum population of 250 lynx that is needed for true genetic sustainability.”
A Natural England spokesman added: “Any decision to grant a licence to reintroduce lynx into the wild in England will be based on the impacts on affected communities, the wider environment and follow international guidelines.”