Imminent bid to reintroduce lynx to Northumberland

A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen
A Eurasian lynx. Picture by Erwin van Maanen

An application to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx to Kielder Forest in Northumberland is to be submitted soon.

In April 2015, the Lynx UK Trust, a team of international wildlife and conservation experts, asked the general public for their opinion on bringing back the deer-hunting lynx after a 1,300-year absence to help balance out deer overpopulation and its damaging effects on forestry and agricultural crops.

Later that year, a national stakeholder consultation was launched on the possible reintroduction, with Northumberland listed as one of five trial reintroduction sites.

Now, the Trust has said that it will submit an application for a five-year trial reintroduction in the Kielder Forest region within the next two months, which could see six lynx released by the end of this year. The bid will go to Natural England, which is the statutory body that would decide on the application.

In a statement on its Facebook page, the Trust said: ‘In many other countries, Eurasian lynx reintroduction has proven exceptionally low-conflict and wonderfully beneficial for the local communities that live alongside them, and we do sincerely hope that these cats, which thrived here for millions of years, do have the opportunity to prove they can still fit into both our ecology, and alongside local communities like those across the Kielder region.’

It also refers to the consultation that has taken place since the first public meeting in Kielder 11 months ago and thanks all those who have responded and submitted comments.

However, while some are enthusiastic about the proposed reintroduction, others, including many in the farming community, are not with the NFU branding the idea ‘expensive with a high risk of failure’.

When the plans were first announced, NFU countryside adviser Claire Robinson said: “Any species introduction, particularly if it has not been in this country for hundreds of years, can have a massive impact on the many benefits that the countryside delivers. The environment has changed drastically and we do not know how lynx would behave in the current environment.

“But the biggest concern we have would be the impact on farm animals with lynx preying on lambs, poultry and outdoor piglets – those animals are farmers’ livelihoods.

“In our view any re-introduction of lynx would be expensive with a high risk of failure – we believe efforts, and finances, would be better focused on retaining current biodiversity.

“The NFU will respond in full to any official consultation from Natural England. We will continue to raise these very serious concerns with Natural England as the licensing body.”