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Lynx could be released into wild 30 miles from Glasgow

Land has earmarked to potentially support up to 250 of the big cats near Loch Lomond.

Lynx: Hunted to extinction 1300 years ago. Chris Godfrey Wildlife Photography

Conservationists want to release big cats 30 miles from Glasgow.

The Lynx UK Trust has identified land to potentially support up to 250 lynx between Loch Lomond and the Great Glen.

The trust says their reintroduction could reduce Scotland’s wild deer population and help the struggling capercaillie recover.

“Lynx control deer, creating more habitat for capercaillie in the process, and they suppress mesopredators that eat the eggs of capercaillie, such as foxes and pine martens,” said chief scientific adviser Dr Paul O’Donoghue.

“Scottish forest ecosystems are wildly out of balance; overpopulation mirrored by underpopulation of iconic Scottish species such as the capercaillie, now on the very edge of extinction in Scotland.

“Without doubt, lynx can help restore some balance and save this species.”

A consultation is under way with landowners on the west coast, where the trust has identified 10,000 square miles of potential lynx habitat.

The trust previously shelved plans for a reintroduction in Aberdeenshire but is moving ahead with a trial in the Kielder Forest on the Scottish border.

Lynx were hunted to extinction in the UK more than 1300 years ago and Britain’s surging wild deer population has been attributed to a lack of predators.

The trust says reintroducing lynx would help control deer and pine marten populations, creating more room for the capercaillie population to grow.

About nine out of ten people reportedly support the idea but it has been opposed by landowners.

Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) has warned the consequences of bringing lynx back are not fully understood and says the benefits have been overstated.

Policy officer Anne Gray said: “The suggestion to reintroduce lynx has already received significant media attention but we do not believe the evidence provided currently supports such a proposal.

“We feel many of the potential benefits of lynx reintroduction are overstated,” she added.

“We do not believe the public support as quantified by Lynx UK Trust is accurate and we are not convinced of the benefits to lynx conservation itself of some of the proposed reintroduction sites.”

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