The Lynx UK Trust is keen reintroduce the lynx – once an original native here in the UK – back into the ecosystem, but the National Sheep Association (NSA) has spoken out against the plans amid fears of animal welfare for pastoral livestock.

It’s thought that the Trust will be putting in an application for a release licence for these animals at some point in the near future, although it’s not yet clear when this will be taking place. However, the NSA has said that current legislation would need to be altered in order for this to take place legally because Eurasian lynx are considered dangerous wild animals under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976.

As such, keeping them without a local authority licence in place would be a criminal offence. Current law would also see farmers permitted to shoot lynx legally if they were causing distress to their animals.

NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “NSA is fully opposed to all Lynx UK Trust’s processes and proposals around releasing lynx. The species has been absent from the UK for thousands of years, and our countryside now is far too fragmented and built up to support a viable population of lynx.”

According to the Lynx UK Trust, while sheep are occasionally targeted by lynx the primary food source for these animals is deer. If the trial does go ahead, each lynx used will be radio collared with a GPS position transmitted to a satellite, so that compensation can be made to farmers if an incident does take place.

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