Eurasian-lynx© Jurgen & Christine Sohns/FLPA / imageBROKER/REX/Shutterstock

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has rejected an invitation to help design the trial reintroduction of the lynx to the UK – branding the suggestion “inappropriate”.

In a letter to the Lynx UK Trust, the NSA this week turned down an invitation – extended to it at a recent stakeholder meeting in Cumbria – to join the project advisory group tasked with overseeing an initial reintroduction of the wild cat.

Lynx UK Trust plans to apply for a license this year to trial to reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx in England and/or Scotland for five years.

What is the Eurasian lynx?

  • Wild cat approximately 90-110cm in length and 60-70cm in height
  • Third-largest predator in Europe after the brown bear and the wolf
  • Thought to have been extinct in the UK and Ireland for 1,300 years

It is currently in consultation with stakeholders, including the NSA, about its proposal.

‘Failed to address concerns’

At the meeting in Cumbria, the Lynx UK Trust failed to “adequately” respond to its concerns, says NSA chief executive, Phil Stocker, and it remains opposed to the pilot reintroduction of the Eurasian lynx.

Furthermore, the NSA does not agree it should assist in the design of the proposed trial, he says.

See also: Lynx reintroduction would be ‘final straw’ for sheep farmers

“Our understanding is the project advisory group will design the trial that will only go ahead if Lynx UK is successful in gaining a license from Natural England and/or Scottish Natural Heritage,” says Mr Stocker.

“We feel it is inappropriate for NSA to provide guidance to Lynx UK ahead of that licence application, as we remain opposed to any pilot taking place. In addition, we are not prepared for someone from the NSA to be part of the group when the terms of the reference state members would not be there to represent the views of any particular organisation.”

However, if an application is submitted by the Lynx UK Trust, the NSA expects – alongside other stakeholders – to play a part in talks with licensing authorities.

“Lynx UK has suggested involvement in its project advisory group would be the only way to air these views, but the NSA will continue to use any mechanism we choose to make our concerns as widely heard as possible,” Mr Stocker adds.

The Lynx UK Trust was approached for comment but failed to respond prior to publication.