A NATURE conservation charity is calling for the reintroduction of the lynx to Scotland.
The Scottish Wildlife Trust said there was a “moral and ecological” case for the return of the once native Eurasian lynx which was hunted to extinction in the UK centuries ago.
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It said reintroducing top-level predators such as the lynx would help restore the balance in Scotland’s natural ecosystems.
The medium-sized cat is the third largest predator in Europe, after the brown bear and the wolf. It can be found in the forests of western Europe, Russia and central Asia.
Jonny Hughes, the trust’s chief executive, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust has experience in bringing keystone species back to Scotland, having been a lead partner in the ground-breaking Scottish Beaver Trial, a trial reintroduction of the Eurasian beaver to Argyll.
“This was the first ever licensed reintroduction of a mammal species to the UK.
“The five-year scientific monitoring period of the Scottish Beaver Trial has now come to an end and we await a ministerial decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.
“We believe that lynx should also be considered for reintroduction and in many ways could be a flagship for the restoration of native habitats, particularly woodlands into the future.
He added: “Finding the right locations will be one of the major challenges for a potential lynx project and there will be a range of stakeholders who will need to work in partnership to ensure the best chance of success and support, as has been the case in the Scottish Beaver Trial.
“It is important that we all understand the potential benefits of bringing back the lynx to our woodland ecosystems, but also to our forestry and tourism industries.
“At the same time we should understand the challenges that this beautiful once-native cat will bring with it.”
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