Report from Chris Smith
Will one consequence of introducing wolf and lynx, known to have low kill rates of prey, not be their migration to easier lowland ground to pursue wild fowl and domestic animals?
The appeal of the Highlands and Islands is mainly related to a combination of wilderness and splendour. In such environments, excitement and peace can be experienced without contrivance.
The most significant factors to address in relation to tourism are probably fuel costs and midges.
A M Martin
Ross and Cromarty
Am I alone in thinking the news, that if the National Farmers' Union and Scottish Natural Heritage are both opposed to the restoration of wolves and lynx to our landscape, it must be quite a good idea?
The best tactic may be simply to release missing species in favourable locations. Lifetimes would pass before our bureaucracy ever budged. I believe this has already happened; I know of several wild boar sites, and I hear pleasing rumours beaver are present at two remote venues.
It may be the wolf and lynx are the least easy candidates. The creatures we obliterated include the bison, bear, auroch, chamois, wolverine, lemming, great bustard and sturgeon. My own favourite is the walrus.
Many sightings of the monster in Loch Ness seem to be sturgeon - not uncommon at 15 feet. The last beaver pelt to be taxed by the Scottish Crown came from Urquhart Bay.
The NFU's hostility can be squared: award it a lynx subsidy. Restoring our native species would be a blessing in every sense.
Old Kirkhope, Ettrick
Gillian Strickland (Letters, 1 July) thinks it would be a good idea to return the "native species", ie wolf and lynx, to the rural environment. These species are no longer native. We eliminated them years ago be-cause they were competitors; they killed livestock, on which we de-pended for survival.
The environments, both physical and philosophical, which the wolf and lynx inhabited are long gone. Nowadays, Scotland is a managed environment. To pretend that Scotland is still a wilderness is to abdicate to a Brigadoon mentality.
We should avoid the wolf and the lynx and also, for that matter, the bear and other atavistic species. Foxes, wolves, lynx, bears are all predators, and this mode of existence is by definition an inferior way of life.
James Boyle (Letters, 6 July) feels native species such as lynx and wolves should not be reintroduced because, as predators, they lead "an inferior way of life". Society has moved on a great deal from the days we eliminated these large predators.
He is right the landscape is no longer a wilderness. But Scotland has more forest than at any time since the Middle Ages. Deer densities are among the highest in Europe, and conditions are good for large carnivores. Lynx, in particular, have been reintroduced into several European countries, where they help to control deer populations.
Reintroduction of large carnivores should never occur unless an infrastructure has been put in place to ensure that farmers do not lose out economically as a result of any livestock depredation that might occur.
Far from being a thing of the past in Europe, large carnivores are a valuable component of modern multiple-use forests. It is time we in Scotland began to discuss this issue seriously.
Dept of Zoology
University of Aberdeen
The suggestion by David Heatherington (Letters, 11 July), that lynx and other large carnivores be introduced to the Scottish environment, should be resisted.
Large carnivores which are free to roam the countryside will always represent a potential threat to the human population, particularly young children living in rural areas. Farmers will also feel less than enthusiastic about having to protect their livestock from lynx, wolves or bears. Creating an "infrastructure to ensure that farmers do not lose out" is not the answer; it still involves some farm animals facing a horrific, violent death.
While the increase in the proportion of ScotlandŐs landscape given over to forestry is a welcome development, we do not need to resort to the use of large predators to control deer populations within these forests.
The Scotsman, 2002
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