Wild lynx could be reintroduced to Britain’s countryside under plans to release the big cats into Kielder Forest in Northumbria.
Up to 10 of the animals, which mainly eat deer, would be released into the English-Scottish borders under proposals sets out by the Lynx UK Trust. It would be the first time wild lynx have been at large in Britain for 1,300 years.
CLA Director of Policy and Advice Christopher Price said that careful consideration was needed before giving the scheme the green light.
He said: “Landowners have been instrumental in projects to re-introduce a number of species into the UK countryside, such as beavers in the South West and pine martens in Wales.
“Proposals to reintroduce the Eurasian Lynx to the UK need more careful consideration, and to date the process of gathering independent evidence and consulting with landowners has not been convincing.
“We are not against the principle of reintroducing the lynx to the UK, but we do not believe there is sufficient evidence at this stage to support a trial introduction at any of the proposed sites. Previous consultations carried out by the Lynx Trust have not been sufficiently objective and the information provided by the organisation has not always been accurate.
“We are fortunate in being able to learn from other members of the European Landowners Organisation, many of whom have firsthand experience of living with the lynx for some time.”
Reintroducing the lynx could have potential environmental benefits, such as eco-tourism and the possibility the species could play a part in reducing the Muntjac deer populations that are damaging British woodlands. But there are also potential negative impacts the lynx may have on other species, particularly rarer ground nesting birds.
Mr Price added: “Further investigation is also required into the likelihood of lynx predating on domestic livestock such as lambs, and if this is a problem then proposals should be discussed for ways to ensure that farmers are not disadvantaged or if necessary that measures are in place so that the lynx can be removed.”
The Lynx UK Trust will hold a consultation about its planned release of the cats with people living around Kielder, including farmers and tourism operators, this week.