The farming industry has come together to highlight the potentially damaging consequences which may arise from reintroducing lynx back into the British countryside
Farming organizations are working to prevent the release, being motivated by the threat the predator poses to livestock such as sheep flocks.
Of pivotal interest, was the way in which Lynx UK had conducted its research, with the NSA reporting the group had used its own consultation work and interpretations of research to gain public support for its proposals.
In response to Lynx UK’s announcement that Kielder forest, Northumberland, was to be listed as a first choice site for a trial period, the National Sheep Association (NSA) held a meeting to discuss the widespread concern over the implications of releasing lynx.
The introduction of wild cats into UK landscapes has been supported by environmentalists due to the recorded success of many European programmes. However, for rural communities, the lynx discussion has provided a platform for new fears surrounding the disruption of grazing and farm work.
Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, emphasised how matters of public interest went way beyond the losses that will be suffered by sheep farmers. He said: “Introducing the lynx would disrupt the centuries old balance between farming, grazing and human activity”.
While a formal application for the pilot release is yet to be made, the NSA said it remained uncomfortable about the prospect of having 10 animals residing in Kielder forest. Tensions have been heightened by Lynx UK’s reported attempt to misrepresent the NSA’s position as an opposing organisation.
Mr Stocker added: "The process adopted by Lynx UK is flawed and misleading and cannot be used as the legally required independent public consultation that must be carried out when the reintroduction of a lost species is considered.
"We do not believe claims that say lynx will only predate some 0.4 sheep per year, as evidence in other parts of the world demonstrates that such claims are nonsense”.