1. ITV Report

Six Eurasian lynx set for trial return to Northumberland

Eurasian lynx Photo: PA

Major landowners, responsible for 700km2 of potential Eurasian lynx habitat in the Kielder Forest region, have given their permission for a planned Lynx UK Trust trial reintroduction of the predator.

According to Lynx UK Trust, 100% of the landowners approached have given their go-ahead, to return six of the medium-sized cats to Kielder for a five year trial.

If the trial was successful, it could lead to a wider reintroduction of the lynx in other parts of the UK such as the Scottish Highlands.

Advocates of the reintroduction of the animal say it would help to reduce the UK's over-populated deer numbers and boost tourism in Northumberland.

I think this speaks volumes for the confidence in the trial reintroduction plan we've laid out, and the potential it has for improving the local ecosystem and expanding the local tourist economy. Literally every landowner we have approached has given permission.

There's a perceived threat to sheep which has come largely from baseless National Sheep Association scaremongering, the union has avoided every opportunity to engage with the project and seem to have no interest in their members benefitting from the extensive opportunities a reintroduction could bring."

– Dr Paul O'Donoghue, Lynx UK Trust
Credit: PA

Although the lynx normally prey on deer, some sheep farmers are worried that their livestock will be affected.

The National Sheep Association say it disputes the latest information from the Lynx UK Trust.

The area the trust is talking about is clearly a large proportion of Kielder and the majority of farmers we've spoken to there are opposed to the release. It may be that Lynx UK has not drawn the important distinction between landowners and farmers, as land in that area is frequently farmed by tenants.

NSA also disputes the claim that we are 'baseless scaremongers', as the influential arguments we have put forward again the release is based on experiences from farmers in other European countries."

– Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive
Credit: PA

The Government is still considering the Lynx UK Trust licence application.