The lynx became extinct in the United Kingdom in the late medieval period. However, there has been a call to reintroduce them into the Scottish side of Kielder Forest.
The global large carnivore population is at great risk. This is due to an increasing loss of habitat as well as lack of food and various other environmental factors.
Weighing between 12 and 35kg, and at the approximate height of 65cm, the Eurasian Lynx is the perfect predator for the roe deer whose population has grown unmanageable in recent years. By introducing the lynx, it may have an economic benefit to the area as a whole. Lynx introduction would not only naturally reduce the roe deer population but increase wildlife tourism in the area.
Thomas Ovenden, who conducted his Masters at Bangor University, has recently been awarded UK Masters Student of the Year by the online blog FindaPHD. He gained this award for his research on introducing the Eurasian lynx into Kielder Forest. His results revealed that there is sufficient habitat to provide an opportunity for the lynx to sustain a population.
Ovenden said: “Reintroducing large carnivores is often complicated and expensive, meaning that getting things right first time is extremely important. Therefore, advances in modelling approaches, as utilised during our study, are extremely valuable…Our research considered several proposed reintroduction sites, showing how these models can be used as a safe and relatively inexpensive way of assessing the suitability of reintroduction proposals and providing the evidence required to inform decision-making at an early stage.”
Unfortunately, the past proposals submitted by the Lynx UK Trust to reintroduce the lynx was denied by Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. He said: “I have accepted Natural England’s advice and decided not to grant a licence for this proposal. Following a thorough assessment, Natural England concluded that the application does not meet the necessary standards set out in the IUCN guidelines and fails to give confidence that the project could be completed in practical terms or that the outputs would meet the stated aims.”
However, Michael Gove understands the necessity of the project, he believed the project “lacked the necessary depth and rigour to provide confidence it would succeed.”
Gove continue: “Kielder Forest is an area where the Forest Commission has been taking action to manage and restore important habitats and ecosystem functions to enhance biodiversity. This has included the release of hundreds of water vole and the removal of mink from the Tyne and monitoring the return and spread of pine martens to understand options for their recovery.”