Lynx UK Public Survey - Results

Despite some vociferous voices against the reintroduction of lynx to Kielder Forest, and scare stories about lynx attacking livestock and even humans, there have been two enlightening stories in the news recently:

One: a nature photographer in Alaska was surprised one morning to find a mother lynx and her seven cubs playing on his terrace. They romped and bounced under the auspices of their mother, not realising a man in a bathrobe was standing behind his camera and a screen door photographing them. When he made the mistake of forging momentary eye-contact with one of them, they fled in panic. So much for the dangers of lynx attack.

Two: The results of the Lynx UK Public Survey have recently been published.

Three statements or propositions were put to a poll of over 10,000 UK residents. These were:

1. We should reintroduce species that were once found in the UK but have since become extinct.

2. We should reintroduce Lynx as part of a monitored and controlled trial.

3. We should do this within the next 12 months.

The answers were analysed according to the different sectors of society who were polled. Where the answers came from strongly opinionated voices connected to or interested in ecology, conservation and nature the positive response was at its highest, with 91% strongly agreeing with the first and second propositions.

Where the voices were equally opinionated but connected with or interested in farming and agriculture the net result was only 39% in agreement. But where opinions were allied to groups such as the National Farmers’ Union and the Country Land & Business Association the net agreement rose to 58% for propositions one and two.

The third statement or proposition, which introduces a time scale for lynx, was treated more cautiously, with a slight reduction in agreement between various interest groups, and an overall net agreement between strongly-opinionated voices of 84%.

Another passive set of participants, i.e. not particularly opinionated, were also polled, making up 1042 out of the total figure polled. Out of these 53% agreed with the first statement, and 49% with the second. 30% were neutral on the matter.

The third statement, when presented to the passive UK group resulted in a rise of neutral abstentions to 42%, with a net agreement of 32%, and disagreement of 24%.

So, what does this mean? Well, all in all these figures show a total between all parties of 76% agreement for statement 1, 70% agreement for statement 2 and 58% in favour of statement 3.  

That’s more conclusive than other recent votes one could mention, but won’t, and shows the strength of overall opinion in favour of both rewilding in general and controlled rewilding of lynx in particular, though some trepidation is reflected in response to the third proposition. For some people twelve months seems too soon.

Lynx UK trust say this is an interim report, which highlights the need for further communication with both interest groups and the general public for phase two of the consultation. In particular they are keen to bring more information based on examples from European lynx trials to enable a more informed opinion either way.

For full figures go to http://www.lynxuk.org/publications/lynxinterimsurvey.pdf