The prospect of Eurasian lynx being released in Scotland will move a step closer in the next few weeks when campaigners hold a public meeting in Argyllshire.
The Lynx UK Trust, which claims it has found considerable support for a release among landowners in Argyllshire and Inverness-shire, says it now wants to consult with the general public.
The trust’s chief scientific adviser, Paul O’Donoghue, said they were searching for a village hall that would be big enough to hold the number of people who are expected to attend.
“We will be making a statement on the proposed release site and there will be an open invitation to attend the meeting,” he said.
“A lot of groundwork on the planning process was gained during the preparation for our application for a trial release at Kielder, and we will be taking that knowledge to the next site. Scotland provides some great habitat for lynx.”
On the Kielder application, which is currently being considered by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, Mr O’Donoghue said the trust was in regular dialogue with the statutory agencies.
Mr O’Donoghue was undeterred by claims by the National Sheep Association (NSA) that a lynx which escaped from a Welsh zoo had killed seven sheep this week.
He pointed out that a post-mortem examination carried out by Welsh government vets on one of the sheep confirmed it had died from bites to the top of the neck, but it was not possible to confirm if a dog or a cat had caused the damage.
He added: “There is absolutely no conclusive evidence that the sheep were killed by a lynx. It’s more likely to be a dog kill.”