NSA urges Lynx UK Trust to engage properly with farmers and land managers, rather than trying to pull public media stunts

28th April 2015

Following renewed media activity around proposed plans to reintroduce lynx into the wild, National Sheep Association (NSA) has written to Lynx UK Trust asking it to engage instead with the people and businesses that will be affected by the project.

NSA has asked Lynx UK Trust to go through the correct channels and submit licence applications to Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, in order for a proper and unbiased consultation process to be initiated.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “While we can understand Lynx UK Trust’s enthusiasm for canvassing public views and using these views to give evidence of public support, it is disingenuous to do this prior to a proper, unbiased and balanced consultation. NSA has asked the organisation to stop seeking largely disconnected public support and move forward with a license application, to enable a proper and appropriate consideration of the short-term and long-term economic, environmental and social implications.

“It is clear to see from the generally positive response to lynx reintroduction plans that it is very easy to promote a nice image for the general public around the ‘big cat’. However, these animals are high level predators whose reintroduction would directly impact on sheep farmers and related businesses. Lynx UK Trust will soon find itself in a situation where it has huge public support but has alienated farmers, land managers and those who depend on the land for their livelihoods.

“Grassland are one of our most treasured and important habitats, and to do something that disincentivises the keeping of sheep, which are one of our most important management tools, could have a negative impact on grassland-related ecology and soil management. It is also right to consider the animal welfare implications of releasing the lynx. While NSA does not question the ‘cruelty of nature’, when looking at the consequences of a manmade release of a predator, we do think the impact on welfare should be considered. I am not sure we are ready for the savages of a big game reserve.”

The suggestion by Lynx UK Trust that sheep farmers can be easily compensated for any livestock killed by the predator is one example of the misinformation surrounding the plan, NSA says. It believes compensation for losses is not at all easy, as historical and current livestock compensation models show.

“NSA is also in the process of speaking to animal welfare and environmental groups to gather a more complete picture of what support is out there for lynx reintroduction, to counteract this popular support from people who have not been given the full picture.”

Mr Stocker continues: “Compensation would not be a straight-forward option for the sheep sector, as who will determine the value of the animal? If a lynx happened to kill a high genetic merit animal from a specific bloodline, that animal is arguably irreplaceable. Or if it killed a baby lamb, would it be valued at its financial worth that day or the much higher value it would have grown into given the chance to thrive and grow? Each sheep on each farm has a different financial worth depending on the situation and business. Determining the value of each animal is incredibly complex, and any general compensation figures would potentially devalue the livestock, the distress to the animal and its owner, and the time involved.”

Click here to read NSA’s initial reaction when Lynx UK Trust first announced its intention to reintroduce the lynx to the wild.

Notes to editors:-

  • For more information contact NSA Communications Manager Joanne Briggs on 07807 237982 or joanne@nationalsheep.org.uk.
  • The National Sheep Association is an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. It is funded by its membership of sheep farmers and its activities involve it in every aspect of the sheep industry. More at www.nationalsheep.org.uk and www.nsanextgeneration.org.uk.