Leader comment: Scotland should be cautious about lynx reintroduction

A European lynx on the prowl in Bavaria (Picture: Ronald Wittek/REX/Shutterstock)
A European lynx on the prowl in Bavaria (Picture: Ronald Wittek/REX/Shutterstock)
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In recent years, Scotland has seen the return of some wonderful animals such as beavers, ospreys and sea eagles that were once driven to extinction.

It is undoubtedly true that these creatures have boosted tourism and they will also have caused knock-on effects on the environment. Beavers have even been lauded as a form of flood defence because their dams slow down the flow of water after heavy rain. The re-introduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the US also showed what an extraordinarily beneficial effect the arrival of a top predator can have. It is possible the lynx might have a similar impact in Scotland by acting as a natural control for deer, which have no natural predators and can devastate areas of woodland.

Farmers do have genuine concerns about the potential losses of sheep, so if lynx were to return there would need to be a carefully controlled trial first. Howver it is an idea worth exploring and we should also continue to look at what other lost species could be brought back. Humans have increasingly recognised the need to be better at sharing the world with other animals but we could still do more.

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