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National Sheep Association hits out at plans to reintroduce lynx in Kielder forest

(PA/Lynx UK Trust)
(PA/Lynx UK Trust)

A planning application for a trial reintroduction of lynx in Kielder forest is likely to be submitted this summer.

The confirmation came from the Lynx UK Trust on the day the National Sheep Association (NSA) intensified its opposition to the whole rewilding movement following reports that wolves could be about to join lynx on the reintroductions agenda.

Steve Piper, a spokesman for the Lynx UK Trust, said the consultation process was continuing in the Kielder area on the Scotland-England border, and summer was now the most likely time for an application to be made.

The NSA had earlier raised concerns that a pack of wolf cubs had been imported to a wildlife park in Devon in what its suggests could be the first step in introducing the animals into the wild.

In a statement NSA said: “The cubs are being monitored by scientists in captivity but, as with the lynx, no release licence has been applied for.”

The NSA went on to criticise the reintroduction application process and claimed the Lynx UK Trust’s communication had not been transparent and local consultation meetings had not been well enough publicised to allow all stakeholders to attend.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “In our opinion, the consultation process Lynx UK Trust has adopted is flawed and misleading.

“We believe there should be considered weighting given to stakeholders in any national consultation. In my mind if lynx were to be released in Kielder, those living and earning from that area should carry far greater weight than someone living in a city 300 miles away. It is the local people that are the real stakeholders.”

In response Mr Piper said the trust had been working in Kielder for several months in an effort to ensure everyone got a say on the proposal.

He added: “We believe weighting is being given to locals because they are specifically the people we have been talking to. The stakeholder consultation is for local people, not the NSA. We want to hear from local sheep farmers there, our consultation is with them.”

Mr Stocker said the NSA had concerns about a reintroduction in Kielder that stretched far wider than the increase in sheep losses he believed it would cause.

“These include animal welfare and disease biosecurity as well as unconsidered changes in ecology if we were to see pastoral farming decline,” he said.

“The beauty of an area like Kielder already provides a stunning example of the countryside we enjoy in the UK that has been formed by centuries of farming, grazing and human activity. We stand to lose much more than just sheep if farm businesses cannot continue in the face of lynx introduction.”

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