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Lynx shooting should come as 'stark warning' says farmers union

The Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) says the shooting and killing of a lynx which escaped from a zoo "should come as a stark warning" when it comes to plans to re-introduce the wild cats into Northumberland.

Back in July, The Lynx UK Trust submitted an application to Natural England to re-introduce six of the medium-sized cats to Kielder Forest on a trial basis.

Since then, the felines have made the headlines after an 18-month-old Eurasian lynx named Lillith went missing from Broth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberystwyth.

The animal, which the FUW believes was responsible for killing seven sheep, had been on the loose since October 29, before being captured almost two weeks later and killed by Ceredigion Council.

Eurasian Lynx Credit: Chris Godfrey

Despite animal rights campaigners condemning the shooting, the FUW has defended the Council's decision after the local authority received advice from a specialist veterinary surgeon that the risk to public well-being had increased from moderate to severe.

Park staff said that the animal did not pose a threat to humans and were "devastated and outraged" by what had happened.

A spokesman for the FUW said:

In an ideal world the lynx would have been quickly recaptured, but this did not happen.

"Given the risk to people and livestock, action to remove such a danger was long overdue.

"Had the animal not been allowed to escape in the first place, this situation would not have arisen, and it seems a number of our member's livestock would not have been attacked and killed."

– A spokesman for the FUW

The FUW said it had written to the Welsh Government and the local Police Commissioner last week to express its concerns that the danger the animal posed was not being taken seriously.

Despite being around the size of a sheepdog, an animal like this will routinely kill animals much bigger than itself, and the fact it was used to humans increased the risk it posed to the public.

"Some have already expressed their outrage over the shooting, but the public reaction would have been far greater had the animal attacked an adult or child, as has happened elsewhere."

– A spokesman for the FUW
Lynx Credit: Chris Godfrey

Ceredigion Council said the decision had been taken to humanely destroy the wild animal after the risk it posed to the public increased to "severe" following failed attempts to recapture it.

A statement shared by Aberystwyth central councillor Ceredig Davies on Facebook said:

Despite exhaustive multi agency efforts to recapture the class A animal, the multi-agency group responding to the incident received additional advice late on Friday afternoon, 10 November, from a specialist veterinary surgeon that the risk to public well-being had increased from moderate to severe due to the continued failure of the Wild Animal Kingdom to recapture the Lynx.

"The safety of the public was paramount and therefore once the Lynx had strayed over to a populated area of the community it was necessary to act decisively."

– Aberystwyth central councillor Ceredig Davies

The Lynx Trust said there are no recordings of attacks on humans by healthy, wild Eurasian lynx anywhere in the world.

It also says the animals have a very low impact on livestock, with lynx in Europe killing, on average, less than one sheep every two years.

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