Big cat will not be returning to the Borders for the first time in more than 500 years

A big cat that was native to the Borders more than 500 years will not be making a return just yet.

By Paul Kelly
Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 1:18 pm
Eurasian lynx.
Eurasian lynx.

Rachael Hamilton MSP has been given reassurance that there are no planned reintroductions of lynx in the region at present.

In a parliamentary answer from the cabinet secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, it was confirmed that are currently no plans to reintroduce lynx or large carnivore species in Scotland, following correspondence from concerned constituents.

However, there is still the option for applications for a licence from NatureScot, which the Borders MSP believes leaves the possibility open for a reintroduction in the future.

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The SNP minister stated that ‘anyone seeking to reintroduce lynx or another species into Scotland would require a licence from NatureScot. Thus far, no licence applications for the reintroduction of lynx have been submitted’.

The Lynx UK Trust's first application to bring six lynx into Northumberland was rejected by the former environment secretary Michael Gove in 2018.

Yet the Trust are looking to resubmit the licence application for three lynx in Kielder Forest, pending final consultations.

Mrs Hamilton believes the move to reintroduce lynx is ‘wholly inappropriate’ and risks damaging farmers’ livelihoods along the Border.

She wants the Scottish government to rule out any future reintroduction of lynx in Scotland, and has called on the cabinet secretary to look at removing reintroduction licences specifically for lynx through NatureScot.

Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “I am glad the Scottish government have confirmed there are no plans to reintroduce lynx in Scotland at present.

“Nonetheless, there is still the licensing process through NatureScot, which anyone in the future could apply for a licence to try and reintroduce lynx to the Borders.

“The Lynx Trust want to bring back lynx to Kielder Forest just three years after their failed attempt.

“What is crucial now is that their application is turned down in Northumberland, as it is wholly inappropriate.

“Farmers have raised the issue of sheep worrying and the potential loss of income should the lynx move out of the area identified for reintroduction.

“I have written to the Defra minister George Eustice to urge him to ensure that we see any reintroduction stopped over the border”.

Debbie Playfair, Lothian & Borders regional chair said: “NFU Scotland remains crystal clear that any proposals to re-introduce predators such as lynx are wholly unacceptable to Scottish farmers and crofters.

“Kielder Forest is adjacent to the Scottish Borders and wildlife is no respecter of National boundaries.

“On a study trip to Norway in Autumn 2017, an NFUS delegation heard that Norwegian farmers lost 20,000 sheep to predators. The Norwegians told us that to reintroduce predators into our country would be an absolute catastrophe. Their experience has simply strengthened our resolve.”