The hunt for British Big Cats attracts far more newspaper column-inches than any other cryptozoological subject. There are so many of them now that we feel that they should be archived by us in some way, so we should have a go at publishing a regular round-up of the stories as they come in.
Sunday, 10 May 2015
NEWSLINK: Northumberland's Kielder Forest to 'form a template for lynx reintroduction' across UK
A North East forest can be the flagship site for a big cat’s reintroduction to Britain, according to the driving force behind the project.
Conservation group Lynx UK Trust plans to trial the reintroduction of Eurasian lynx into forests in Northumberland, Cumbria, Norfolk and Aberdeenshire, to control deer numbers.
And after last month saw 91% of the British public back the proposal, the Trust says Kielder Forest in Northumberland National Park could play a pivotal role moving forward.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief scientific adviser to the Trust, said: “Kielder is top of our list of priorities.
“It is the most significant forest block in England and there is very low human population density in the area.
“Our vision is that Kielder will be an extremely successful site and will form a template for lynx reintroduction across the country.”
Dr O’Donoghue said the Trust had already been approached by at least three private landowners interested in hosting big cats around Kielder Forest since it was announced as a potential site for lynx reintroduction two weeks ago.
“Positive” initial discussions with the Forestry Commission, which is a major landowner in the area, have also been held.
He said: “We’ve had a number of Northumberland people come forward to volunteer their services and help with the education process.
“We will be setting up a stakeholder forum for the Kielder region, where every group can have a voice and have chance to influence the project.
“We are an open, transparent organisation. We want local people to get involved and really embrace the project.
The Trust says bring back the lynx could bring significant financial benefits to rural Northumberland communities, citing multi-million pound eco-tourism industries that have developed around lynx reintroductions in Germany and the sea eagle’s return to the Isle of Mull.
Steve Piper, spokesman for the Trust, said: “We really suffer from not having a really charismatic predator in this country.
“The lynx could play a really useful role as a figurehead for some of the wilder places in the UK, which are at risk of disappearing fast.
“From the North of England up to Scotland, we could have a really quite wild area again.”
The Trust says it has a number of big cats on standby in the mountains of eastern Europe and Scandinavia – animals that could soon be prowling the forests of Kielder.
With the public consultation now over, the Trust will apply this summer to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage for permission to begin the long-lost predator’s historic journey back to Britain.
Dr O’Donoghue added: “The public have spoken very decisively – they want this.”
The lynx was wiped out in the UK over 1,300 years ago by fur hunters but have been successfully reintroduced across Europe.
Reintroduction is aimed at providing a natural control on the UK’s overpopulated deer species, leading to forest regeneration and a boost to the entire ecosystem.