Our view on the proposed reintroduction of lynx

LynxBy Annabel Cook, Communications & Fundraising Manager

There is no denying that the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is a stunning animal, easily recognised by its bobbed tail and tufted ears. It is found across much of Europe, where is it is one of the largest predators, along with wolves and bears. It is thought that lynx have been extinct in the UK for over 1,000 years – probably due to hunting for its fur and loss of habitat as farming became more intensive.

Proposed reintroduction

There has been a proposal by the Lynx UK Trust for a trial reintroduction and several potential sites across the UK have been identified. If a trial does go ahead, it’s possible that more than one site will be selected.

Several reasons have been put forward for a reintroduction. These can be summarised as providing local ecological benefits, for example, acting as a natural control against deer, helping counteract some of the damage they do to our forests. It has also been suggested that a reintroduction would bring economic benefits to release areas, such as through increased tourism.

The GWCT’s opinion

In October 2015, an informal consultation was launched with a number of stakeholders asked to provide feedback, including the GWCT.

We are generally cautious about the proposal, given the challenges of fulfilling the requirements of the IUCN’s “Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations”.

We feel that limited information has been provided, and we would want to explore further the potential effects on existing conservation projects; the conservation of other species; and on existing land use, which often directly and indirectly supports habitat and species conservation.

In addition, we feel that more clarity is required on ecosystem service benefits, including social acceptability; available management options; and the methods of trialling reintroductions, including success criteria.

Ecological concerns

Our understanding of the potential prey for lynx in the UK suggests that it would be different to prey in other parts of its range, so this needs further investigation. In addition, our research suggests conservation of some UK BAP species (those identified as being the most threatened and requiring conservation action under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan) would be impeded by an increase in other predator species, that may also be supported by the scavenging the carcasses of lynx prey.

Finally, one of the reasons given for the reintroduction is to reduce grazing pressure on forests by deer. The resulting advance of forest fringe could mean other species with low numbers in the UK would lose out. For example, black grouse and grey partridge prefer an open habitat. The expansion of forestry could isolate existing populations and prevent dispersal.

Economic concerns

The project proposal suggests that a trial introduction would be of great economic benefit to the local economy. This would be due to reduced crop and forestry damage by deer, and increase in tourism and recreation around the study sites.

However, we believe that the figures given for economic benefit are too high and we have our concerns around the proposed income from tourism. Lynx are nocturnal and secretive and, together with the low densities during the trial, are unlikely to attract significant additional tourism.

Post-release monitoring

Monitoring of a trial reintroduction of a long-absent predatory species will be different to monitoring an established species. It should include, as far as possible, key species which may be affected, positively or negatively, including prey and predators. The consultation document goes into some detail on what the monitoring will focus on, but we would like to see a budget and an indication of how it will be funded.

In conclusion

We have many concerns about the proposed reintroduction, but most are based on the lack of information provided in the consultation document. For example, details of an exit strategy that guarantees the lynx can be removed.

A particular concern for GWCT is the land management community. We would like to see that species management guidance is agreed, which includes clear management criteria in terms of control of lynx impacts by land managers. Although there is a proposal for a sheep compensation scheme, which is welcomed, we would like to see more detail. This would future-proof any trial proposal.

What’s next?

The Lynx UK Trust is starting to reach out to stakeholders who responded to the consultation, to discuss their feedback, including at a stakeholder forum event earlier this month. They still intend to apply for a licence for a trial reintroduction of lynx at some point in 2016.

Have your say

We're always interested to hear what other people think so please take our short survey below:

Create your own user feedback survey


Lynx Re-Introduction

at 14:14 on 31/10/2017 by Andrew Wright

Goodness sake so many excuses being made to allow the re-introduction of Lynx, firstly the issues regarding Deer control??. If people think these large felines will control Red Deer numbers there greatly mistaken, yes maybe Roe Deer in there natural Forestry Habitats yes!!. So complete dribble about reducing road accidents in the Highlands is not going to cut ice, they would rather attack sheep than a large Red Deer (Stag or Hind). Frankly there are far better and easier methods of Deer control than the excuse of Lynx. Furthermore these creatures will range far and wide until they find an easy hunting territory which will or course involve Game Shooting Estates or like Foxes urban areas!! both of which will create serious issues with domestic pets or reared Game Birds. Casualties will be high for both sectors as Lynx will just as easily enter legal traps or suffer high road casualties in urban areas, Frankly its an absolutely ludicrous idea in the UK, for so many obvious reasons and if anyone thinks the animals will allow the public to view them in a natural habitat they are also fooling themselves. Unfortunately though there is a small minority of stupid people that will ignore the debate and correct procedures, like Beavers they will be introduced in secret areas then the consequences of such actions will not be beneficial to anyone not the least for the Lynx. Common sense must be applied on these matters!!.

The Lynx and it's previous demise from the UK.

at 16:47 on 08/08/2017 by Alec Swan.

So those who would support the re-intruction of Lynx would blame their extinction here, over 1000 years ago bear in mind, upon hunting would they? Of course there were hunter-gatherers 1000 ago, but with a human population of (at a guess) about 5% of today's population, and without firearms or packs of hounds, I do wonder how man managed to affect such an event. Were they 'plentiful' then their skins could well be highly sought after, but it's stretching credulity to believe with the few which would have been killed annually, man decimated the numbers by hunting. Lynx require vast areas over which to roam, and even a site the size of Kielder forest would probably only support 3 or 4 pairs. No, I'd suggest that as we have such a tiny island, that the extinction of the Lynx may well have occurred because of the expansion of settlements but that their eventual failure to breed and reproduce was far more likely to be a 'natural' occurrence, natural to mean without intent and as a result.


at 21:11 on 18/07/2017 by Bob Cook

I'm not sure how Lynx could be contained in any particular area, But I can assure you I will not tolerate them on my land or woodland. We have our share of pests including deer and all of these can be kept to acceptable numbers , and by doing so produces excellent quality meat and of course freezers enable us to eat this all year round. Perhaps those wanting to re-introduce lynx want to r-introduce the fur fashion My late father would have called them Cranks

Depleted and broken system

at 22:42 on 29/07/2016 by Eleyse Gottman

Those talking about a thousand years meaning that Britain is a completely different place are thinking about humans and our idea of time too much. Our wildlife and countryside are both profoundly sick, and most farmers know precious little about it beside the last time they fertilised it and sward length. Deer evolved to be hunted by predators who eat year round, they breed to keep numbers up during heavy predation and they eat like locusts, as do most large herbivores. Our country would quickly revert to primal forest if we stepped back and let it, through less deer, less building and smarter farming, and those trees help keep the soil fertile - and in one place! If grouse, partidge and ptarmigan numbers are worrisome, may I suggest that people don't shoot them for a few years and let exponential breeding do its magic?

Lynx Reintroduction.

at 20:51 on 29/07/2016 by Les Wallace

As usual an anti stance from 'sporting' interests of a genuine conservation initiative that might just complicate things a bit re use of the countryside as a factory for producing game. Lynx are more likely to save a human life by reducing deer numbers and thereby road accidents - conversely Scottish estates increase risk of road casualties with deer due to supplementary feeding to keep deer population high!!! I'm afraid some of the comments here re the country's ecology having readjusted since we lost lynx are rather silly. There is no new balance when you take away a key ecological element which has been co-existing and co-evolving with everything else for thousands and even millions of years, there is serious imbalance which is why increasing deer numbers are overgrazing in our woodland and threatening woodland ecology. Our wildlife needs the lynx back, and it'll do us good too - help people start thinking for themselves.

Reintroduction of Lynx

at 10:48 on 22/07/2016 by Simon Rogers

It's right to be very cautious about re-introductions especially after such a long period. However, some correspondents are right to point out that vastly more damage to wildlife is likely to continue from predation by domestic cats (8?10? million or more), dogs (8 million), road vehicles and damage or loss of habitat. Yes, demand a credible control or 'exit' strategy by all means, identify key elements to be protected e.g. rare breeds, but accept that some risks will always be present and there should be realistic compensation.

Lynx information

at 18:01 on 13/07/2016 by John Bruce

A recent paper written to exhibit the most recent information, opinions and facts about the Eurasian Lynx can be found on the British Deer Society website. http://www.bds.org.uk/index.php/research/current-research-projects/13-current-projects/159-the-potential-for-reintroduction-of-eurasian-lynx-to-great-britain

Lynx re-introduction

at 12:13 on 12/07/2016 by Bunny Parsons

Given the fact that they have not been present for 1,000 years would indicate that a new "balance" has evolved amongst the wildlife populations which excludes this predator, Reintroduction will undoubtably upset that balance. I am not convinced that they lynx will be so keen to hunt deer when there are other easier prey about. Thirdly as pointed out, they disappeared from here partly because of loss of habitat as farming became more intensive, well has it not gotten even more intensive in the intervening 1,000 years? so where its all this new unspoilt habitat coming from that is going to be their range? Lynx are indeed very secretive so potential "Lynx tourist endeavours" are unlikely to actually spot any and in fact the increased activity in their range would more likely have the effect of driving them away and probably into areas where they will become a problem for example sheep breeding areas or indeed Pheasant breeding areas, remember that an 8 or even 10 ft wire fence will not stop these lads, I lived most of my life in South Africa and had plenty of contact with Lynx and I have seen them scale much higher fences than that.

Lynx and other carnivores

at 12:10 on 12/07/2016 by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn

Britain is a completely different habitat from when ancient native species, long since extinct from our shores, existed in this country. The human population has since multiplied many times, and all available land now is subject to agricultural use. Even many deer forests in the Highlands of Scotland have sheep, which would be the choice prey of carnivores.


at 11:05 on 12/07/2016 by Anon

Great, a sheep compensation scheme, that's reassuring (!) I doubt that will put farmers' minds at rest, especially those breeding pedigree sheep with bloodlines that have taken generations to achieve. How do you put a value on that?

Lynx Re-introduction

at 14:22 on 10/07/2016 by Ian Whittaker

No surprise here with the conclusion or GWCT's continuing double standards on it's usual selective use of "science". In a desperate search for reasons against, the concern about lynx prey carcasses sustaining other predators is laughable when compared to the effect of 15m game birds that die every year through non-shooting causes. What about the veritable feast that land intensively managed for shooting serves up every year for a range of predators that then have to be controlled to maintain unnaturally high densities of game birds. Lynx might actually do some good in competing with/supressing other predators, helping to break the vicious circle of more game birds, more predators, more predator control, more game birds, more predators and on and on. Now testing that hypothesis would be a good bit of science.

Make a comment