An application is currently awaiting approval from the environment secretary, Michael Gove, and Natural England, although the trial is considered a near certainty after landowners who control the 20 adjoining plots of land, covering 270 square miles, gave their backing.
The reintroduction of these medium-sized cats would bring a range of benefits, including helping to control the UK’s over-populated deer numbers, reducing damage to our wild spaces and improving habitat for wildlife in the process.
Peter Smith, director of Wildwood Trust, said: “Our ecosystem desperately needs reintroductions like this; apex predators are critical for controlling species like deer which can overpopulate and cause serious damage to natural habitats. Lynx aren’t the complete solution, but they’re a keystone element in the construction of one. We’re very happy to be making a big commitment of time, staff and resources to this project, and thoroughly believe the time is perfect for these shy animals to come back to the UK.”
Lynx have been successfully reintroduced in countries across Europe where they have proven themselves to be of no threat to humans. They present a very limited threat to sheep farmers, with the average Eurasian lynx killing just one sheep every two years.
If the trial is successful, it could lead to a wider reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx in other parts of the UK such as the Scottish Highlands.