Across mainland Europe, the Eurasian lynx is staging a comeback. Freed from the pressures of unsustainable hunting and benefiting from a softening of public attitudes, this enigmatic feline has been successfully reintroduced into several countries and is now gaining in number and expanding its range.
Is Scotland ready for lynx?
Here in Scotland, there have been several studies to evaluate the ecological feasibility of bringing back lynx but until now, people’s beliefs and perceptions around the concept have not been fully assessed. Throughout 2021, the Lynx to Scotland partners carried out a comprehensive study across the Cairngorms and Argyll, to accurately evaluate the social feasibility of returning lynx.
The study revealed wide-ranging perspectives from a diverse range of rural stakeholders, including farmers, gamekeepers, foresters, conservationists, landowners, tourism operators and rural communities. The study showed that views about lynx reintroduction are far more diverse, nuanced and complex than a simple ‘for’ and ‘against’.
Five different broad perspectives were identified from those who considered Scotland ready for lynx to those who are firmly opposed, while other contributors were either not yet convinced or felt that Scotland was not yet ready.
The Lynx to Scotland study showed a consensus for the establishment of a cross-sector Lynx Action Group to further explore the benefits and barriers to lynx reintroduction; to build trust between various stakeholders and to address areas of disagreement over science and local knowledge. The Lynx Action Group will be set up during the course of 2022.