Good News for UK Lynx
It is really starting to feel like lynx could be here soon. Support has come from the unlikeliest and loftiest of companies. The uber insurance underwriters, Lloyds of London, have stepped up to the plate in the campaign to reintroduce the Eurasian Lynx into the UK.
In an agreement between Lloyds and Lynx UK Trust, Lloyds have offered to underwrite the whole of the UK’s sheep population in the event of a lynx attack during any trial reintroduction that might take place.
Lloyds has stated that this cover will also extend to pets. They do this because they say the risk of sheep attack by a lynx is so remote any cost to them would be minimal.
This must be welcome news for the National Farmers Union, who had concerns over the prohibitive cost of compensation packages for farmers in the event of sheep death or injury through lynx predation. Lloyds' own research into the risk of lynx attack and the independent conclusions they have reached must go a long way to alleviate fears.
Lynx UK Trust are still waiting for a reply from Natural England on their proposal for a lynx trial in Kielder Forest, Northumberland, but their spokesperson, Paul O'Donoghue, is in buoyant mood. With this latest development he doesn’t see any reason why they shouldn’t get the licence they need now. He told The Scottish Farmer this week, ‘We can make this work for everyone.’
Richard Bryant, acting on behalf of Lloyds, said it was an opportunity for them to support something ‘really positive.’
The fact that The Scottish Farmer has carried this story in such a positive light - a publication that has often been vociferous in their opposition to the lynx trial - could be a sign that opinions are beginning to soften among the farming community.
The lynx is about the size of a Labrador, and is a graceful, charismatic feline. The local community and commercial vendors around Kielder Forest are excited at the thought of lynx attracting a new wave of tourists to a neglected part of the UK, with the possibility of generating more revenue and jobs in the area. The positive impact of rewilding on people, communities and livelihoods is one of the four Principles of Rewilding set out by the charity, Rewilding Britain. You can learn about the four principles in the link.
Kielder Forest, on the border between Northumberland and Scotland, is the largest forest in the UK and currently houses about half of the UK’s red squirrel population. Some have been concerned that the lynx will prey on the red squirrel, reversing painstaking attempts to bring them back, but O’Donoghue, chief scientific advisor to the Lynx UK Trust, is reassuring. Red squirrels are too agile for the lynx to catch, and can climb higher thinner branches. It is the roe deer the lynx will concentrate their efforts on, and there are no shortage of those. Roe deer make up 95% of a lynx's diet.
Lynx, who once roamed through our native forests, were hunted to extinction in the UK for their soft warm pelts. Some would argue that beside the benefits rewilding of lynx would bring, we have a moral obligation to reinstate them. Let’s hope this support by Lloyds of London is the weight that will tip the balance in favour of their return.