Report from Chris Smith
There have been reports that European lynx from France were released by the Wild Beast Trust in February 2002. Three were to be released in the Borders, three in Galloway and six in Ross and Cromarty. i.e. no reported plans to release lynx in Argyll.
We have no confirmation concerning these reported releases so I cannot say whether they are genuine or if the organisation were simply seeking publicity. Even if lynx have been released they would simply add to the small, but thriving population of lynx in Scotland. Three cat-like animals which were probably lynx were reported to be killed in Inverness-shire in 1926 while another was shot a few years ago on a Highland estate.
I am in favour of reintroducing Lynx in Scotland - a scientific study is being carried out by David Hetherington at Aberdeen University. However, I am not in favour of the indiscriminate release of captive bred animals. The evidence from lynx re-introduction programmes suggests that mortality rates can be very high amongst released lynx. If lynx have really been released they may have simply starved to death by now. Another important factor is that captive-bred animals often loose their instinctive fear of human beings. The lynx is one of the least aggressive of the felids and I am only aware of one confirmed lynx attack on a human (in Switzerland), although there has been an unconfirmed report from Kent. The risk of a lynx attack is very small indeed, and unless cornered and injured the animal would almost certainly flee from humans. However on both counts, the indiscriminate release of captive bred animals used to human contact would be totally irresponsible.
We have evidence that lynx are breeding but all locations are kept secret.
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