Farming union labels lynx reintroduction ‘sensationalist and ill-conceived’

NFU Scotland has labelled lynx reintroduction ‘sensationalist and ill-conceived’ as the union calls for a ‘sensible and proportionate’ management of wildlife in Scotland.

The last 12 months has seen ‘real progress’ being made in efforts to allow ‘sensible and proportionate’ management of wildlife that are having a negative impact on farming and crofting, the union says.

This has come at a time of unprecedented interest amongst farmers, crofters and the wider public about the ‘rewilding’ agenda.

Rewilding is large-scale conservation aimed at restoring and protecting natural processes and core wilderness areas, providing connectivity between such areas, and protecting or reintroducing apex predators and keystone species.

NFU Scotland’s Vice President Rob Livesey said the past year has seen a ‘long line of brazen and presumptuous’ claims about the imminent reintroduction of lynx to Scotland.

He said: “I can categorically reassure our members that the process for securing permission for the trial release of lynx is long and complex and any application would be subject to considerable analysis and debate.

“Some have sought to grab headlines with sensationalist and ill-conceived proposals around the likes of lynx and wolves.

“We have used various forums and meetings with key stakeholders, officials and politicians to express our grave concerns, not only about the implications of the proposed reintroduction, but also the tenor of the public debate.”

‘Little support’

Mr Livesey says he believes that outside of a small group of enthusiasts there is ‘little support’ for the current proposals.

He continued: “NFUS will continue to scrutinise the claims and farmers and crofters in Scotland can be confident that the Union, as a member of the Scottish National Species Reintroduction Forum, will take all necessary steps to ensure their interests are protected.

“The recent decision taken by the Scottish Government on allowing the reintroduction of beavers must be backed by strong and robust management of the species to prevent further significant damage to productive farmland. Regrettably, NFUS had been a lone voice in calling for illegally released beavers on Tayside to be removed.

“The failure of Scottish Government and its agencies to properly tackle the illegal release in its early days has seen number soar and widespread public support meant some form of reintroduction was inevitable. NFU Scotland co-ordinated a joint agreement between itself, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, and Scottish Land & Estates on the necessary management of beavers.

“This was delivered to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who has accepted that whilst beavers may be here to stay, they will be managed to prevent unacceptable damage to farmland.”