Wolves, lynx and wild boar ‘should be reintroduced to British forests’

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/wolves-lynx-and-wild-boar-could-be-reintroduced-to-british-forests-10389469.html

Lynx are to be reintroduced into the wild in Britain after a 1,300-year absence, under an ambitious ‘rewilding’ plan drawn up by a conservation charity

‘These are important keystone species which actually drive ecological processes’

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Wild animals including wolves, lynx and wild boar could be reintroduced to British forests as part of a campaign to restore species hunted to extinction.

Plans put together by Rewilding Britain would see the animals roaming Scotland and other parts of the UK in an attempt to allow “native forests to regenerate, while giving the seas a chance to recover from industrial fishing”.

Supporters of the scheme argue that Britain should follow in the footsteps of other European countries, which are already home to large predators. They also maintain that the move would improve biodiversity.

Lynx, which eat deer, rabbits and hares among other animals but are not considered a risk to people, have not been seen in Britain for 1,300 years.

Kielder Forest considered as site for return of wild lynx
Campaigners want the lynx to be reintroduced to Scotland

Spokeswoman Susan Wright told BBC Scotland: “A lot of our important animals were hunted to extinction, species like the wolf, the wild boar, the lynx.

“These are important keystone species which actually drive ecological processes and we should be looking a lot more seriously at bringing these animals back.”

Lynx to be reintroduced into wild in Britain
Missing ‘lynx’ outfoxes police

But the proposals have drawn criticism from farmers’ leaders – who say that the countryside has already experienced problems after the reintroduction of other species, such as beavers and sea eagles.

They say that dams built by beavers have increased erosion and the risk of flooding in neighbouring fields, and that sea eagles, also known as white tailed eagles, kill lambs.

The Scottish government is now trying to decide whether the beavers – which were put in place in Argyll as part of a scientific study – should stay.

NFU Scotland said politicians and Scottish Natural Heritage should “show stronger leadership” on the issue of rewilding.

Vice President Andrew McCornick said: “Our countryside provides food, forestry, tourism, renewables, field sports and environmental goods.

“Recent history has taught us any species introduction, whether legal or illegal, can have an impact on the many benefits that the Scottish countryside currently delivers.”

The Scottish government said they intend to consider the issues carefully – but said there are currently “no plans” to reintroduce top predators such as lynx or wolves.

8 thoughts on “Wolves, lynx and wild boar ‘should be reintroduced to British forests’

  1. Hmmm….a nice idea in theory, but as an island nation, how would they maintain genetic diversity? I think it would require too much manhandling to be ‘natural’, too much like a glorified zoo. It reminds me of Isle Royale, but only on a larger scale. It would seem like a much more natural thing on Continental Europe. Britain did such a thorough job eliminating these animals over 500 years ago (at least wolves). But, if it can be done without too much artificial control of the animals, I’m all for it.

    • Also, ‘hunted to extinction’ isn’t exactly accurate to explain the wolf’s absence. I assume it was the same for the Lynx, etc. Like the rest of Europe, there was an active eradication plan to exterminate them by deliberate propaganda, habitat destruction and killing (not hunting), which was quite successful. What may have been a natural change eventually because of Britain being an island, maybe once connected to the European continent?, was deliberately accelerated extinction by humans. Sadly, this mindset was brought to North America as well, and they almost succeeded here too. We never lost our wolves completely, and I hope we learn lessons in what not to do from our ancestors from Europe and the United States, although it appears that old ideas and habits die hard.

    • Wisdom? I’d call it a fad and more human folly. It makes me ill to think about. Just imagine – taking them from somewhere else, disrupting their lives, dumping them somewhere unfamiliar in Scotland or England – near motorways, farms. No genetic exchange unless they take the Chunnel from mainland Europe, inbreeding. Then if they breed too successfully, the population will have to be ‘managed’. In the book they talk about sterilization. Good God.

      As Carole King says, ‘it’s too late, baby’. It really is too late for the UK and their wilderness.

  2. There’s actually a book of fiction about just this thing by a British author. I’m always leery with fiction about wolves because they have been portrayed so unrealistically and prejudicially in our myths, and they cannot defend themselves. I happened to listen to a few excerpts on a BBC website and much to my dismay, the cardinal sin of all cardinal sins of wolf myths was committed – the fear that one of the wolves would snatch her baby by his overall straps and carry him away, even though she left the child unattended in the first place! We can get that kind of fiction in Arizona. So needless to say, I will not be spending any money to continue to perpetuate that myth.

  3. I feel bad for being so rough on this, but my only concern is for the health and well-being of the animals who will be involved in this. Perhaps it is because in the US the atmosphere for wolves and wildlife is just terrible lately, and I’d hate to see the world’s wildlife suffer similar political fates.

    The world has changed quite a bit in 1,300 years – climate change and human multitudes are going to make this quite a challenge – but I do wish our friends in the UK good luck with it, and do it right! 🙂

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