The National Sheep Association (NSA) has accused Lynx UK of carrying out a ‘flawed and misleading’ consultation on lynx re-introduction following revelations the trust is to apply for a licence this summer to release the wild cats in Northumberland.
If approved, the five-year trial would take place in Kielder forest, but a survey carried out by local MP Guy Opperman showed 97 per cent of people living in villages closest to the release site were opposed to the plans.
The news has been given a frosty reception as the sheep industry is already struggling to cope with a record high number of dog attacks.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “The purpose of the consultation process is to give all stakeholders ample opportunity to have their say, yet we are led to believe the group has made inconsistent and selective efforts to publicise meetings.”
Mr Stocker also took aim at Lynx UK for using ‘inaccurate statistics and information’ to gain support for its proposals.
Confirmation of the re-introduction application from Lynx UK came as six wolf cubs arrived in East Devon as part of a rewilding project by the Wildwood Trust.
The cubs are being held in a large woodland enclosure where the trust is running a series of education programmes, including an anti-bullying course which teaches children how to ‘behave like wolves’.
But Pete Smith, chief executive of the Wildwood Trust, told Farmers Guardian there were no plans for a wolf re-introduction any time soon.
“There would need to be a long process of consultation”, he said.
“Britain is not ready for wolves yet and will not be for a long time, but lynx could be here quite soon and there are various people moving towards that.”
In Scotland, the rewilding agenda has come under fire as it emerged Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland have not been monitoring the impact of a growing population of sea eagles, which were re-introduced in 1975, on avian and mammal species in the release areas.
The eagles are known to snatch lambs and their re-introduction has forced some farmers to take breeding ewes off land where the birds hunt.
Farmers Guardian has approached Lynx UK for comment.