Plan to return lynx to UK receives fresh boost

Paul Brown



A plan to bring back the Eurasian lynx – Lynx lynx – to Britain has moved a step nearer with research that pinpoints the Kintyre peninsula in Scotland as the place this large carnivore has the best chance of thriving. From there, the research suggests, the lynx could spread to the rest of the Highlands over the next century.

However, the idea of releasing cats bigger than a German Shepherd into the Scottish countryside is not universally popular. The lynx’s favourite lunch is roe deer but sheep farmers point out a lazy predator could develop a taste for easier catches.

In February the environment secretary, Michael Gove, vetoed an application to release lynx into the Kielder Forest in Northumberland. While in favour in principle, he refused on the grounds that insufficient work had been done to make sure the reintroduction would succeed.

Related: Plan to return the lynx splits friends and families in Kielder Forest community

The research, which examined three sites in total, agreed with this finding. It concluded that descendants of lynx released in Kielder had only a 21% chance of survival after 100 years. As with most top predators, the lynx’s main enemy is man; we hunted them for fur and wiped them out before the Norman Conquest. But beavers and wild boar are back, so maybe it is the turn of the lynx.