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After a Millennium of Extinction, Lynx Cats Might Make a Comeback

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The Lynx UK Trust, an organization composed primarily of conservationist and scientists specializing in wild cats, is currently seeking licenses to reintroduce six lynxes into the Kielder Forest this year, according to a report by The Guardian.

lynx

Mathias Appel/Flickr

The organization said that the trial reintroduction aims to scientifically observe, measure and analyze the impact of the lynx on various aspects of the UK’s social, economic, and natural environments according.

The Kielder Forest was selected for the trial primarily because of its abundance of deer. Lynxes are known to feed almost entirely on deer and while there is no record of the secretive cat attacking humans, they were severely hunted down because of its fur and went extinct about 1,300 years ago.

The reintroduction plan is encountering opposition from a few locals and sheep farmers for fear that the animal would attack the sheep as well.

lynx

Tabako the Jaguar

“Even if compensation were offered, it will not make sheep mortalities acceptable. I cannot see how distressing attacks caused by a wild animal will be accepted [by the public],” said National Sheep Association’s chief executive Phil Stocker.

Chief scientific advisor to the Lynx UK Trust, Dr. Paul O’Donoghue, on the other hand, believes that bringing the animal back would be the right thing to do.

“Lynx belong here as much as hedgehogs, badgers, robins, blackbirds – they are an intrinsic part of the UK environment. There is a moral obligation. We killed every single last one of them for the fur trade, that’s a wrong we have to right,” said O’Donoghue in an interview.

lynx

Mathias Appel

The Lynx UK Trust officer also stressed the importance and advantages of reintroducing lynx to the UK such as a boost in eco-tourism, improvement of the natural environment and reduction of the “massive overpopulation of roe deer in the UK”.

“We are one of the most biodiversity poor countries in the world. We need the lynx, more than the lynx needs us,” emphasized O’Donoghue.

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