Lynx UK Trust has stood by its claims to reintroduce lynx despite eight sheep being savaged by one of the loose cats in Wales.
The charity, which is planning a release of Eurasian lynx into Kielder Forest, Northumberland, and the Scottish Borders, reiterated only 0.4 sheep a year would be affected by the rewilding scheme.
Owen Jenkins, who farms the land neighbouring Borth Wild Animal Kingdom where the lynx escaped about two weeks ago, was gathering the dead animals when he spotted the lynx lurking ‘about 50 metres away’.
Whilst the Welsh government insisted a post-mortem of the injuries failed to determine whether the bite marks ‘were caused by a dog or cat’, the Wales’ Animal Health and Welfare Framework prompted union concern the Government was in fact covering a positive result.
If one that doesn’t know how to hunt properly has killed 7 sheep in one go then what damage is a ’proffesional’ Lynx capable of?— Georgina Gater-Moore (@georgielmgm)
If one that doesn't know how to hunt properly has killed 7 sheep in one go then what damage is a 'proffesional' Lynx capable of?— Georgina Gater-Moore (@georgielmgm) November 7, 2017
Nick Fenwick, head of policy at the Farmers Union of Wales (FUW) said: “On Wednesday morning (November 1) we received a call from a member who had found seven of his sheep killed with neck-wounds in the Borth area and had seen the escaped lynx just yards away at the same time.
“The Local Authority and Welsh Government have been alerted, and we had expected some kind of statement to have been issued by now given possible dangers to livestock and members of the public.
“Failure to do this has led to speculation that the deaths are either not being taken seriously by the authorities or are being kept from the public for some other reason.”
Whilst there have been sightings of the lynx, the zoo has failed to capture it and instead claimed she had ‘not been tempted into our bait traps’.
But pictures of the lynx stood next to a bait trap in the middle of the night suggested she had found a way to take the bait but escape the trap.
Speaking on its Facebook page, Borth Wild Animal Kingdom said: “She was stalking us tonight. She is definitely playing with us.”
The trauma prompted further fight against the release of five Eurasian lynx into Kielder Forest, Northumberland, after frequent calls to Lynx UK Trust to retract its application.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said there could not be a ‘clearer warning’ of the damage lynx were capable of if released into the wild.
He said: “At a time when Lynx UK Trust’s application to release lynx into Kielder Forest, Northumberland is under review from Natural England, it could not be more timely.
“Lynx UK Trust continue to assure us that lynx, on average, will take just 0.4 sheep annually. A fact which is simply unbelievable given the damage just one has inflicted after several days of roaming free.”
But a Lynx UK Trust spokesman said the incident would have ‘absolutely no affect’ on its application to release the lynx over a five-year period.
He added: “This is a pet lynx that does not know how to hunt. It is not representative of the situation.
“The data we have focuses on wild adult lynx accessed from the whole of the EU and not a one-off event of a lynx that escaped from a zoo.
“These are professional lynx. People call them the ghost cats because they are there but you never see them.”