Sheep farmers ‘totally against’ lynx in Kintyre

Eurasian lynx

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A community interest company (CIC) based in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, has proposed a plan to reintroduce lynx to Kintyre.

Lynx UK Trust CIC, incorporated on January 13, 2015, by directors Doctor Paul O’Donoghue and Emily O’Donoghue, has announced a roadshow at Tarbert Village Hall from 2-4pm on March 5 to discuss the possible release of the big cats.

Councillor John Armour, a Kintyre sheep farmer, reacted with horror to the plan.

Councillor Armour said: ‘I am totally against this proposal.

‘I cannot believe Kintyre has been identified as a possible reintroduction trial as Kintyre hills are still home to many sheep.

‘While deer control may or may not be required, I am sure sheep would become an easier target for lynx than deer.

‘Hill farming is difficult enough and with the prospect of Brexit it is likely to become even more so.

‘The introduction of lynx, in my opinion, would mean the end of any chance of a sustainable future for hill farming.’

Dr O’Donoghue, the Lynx UK Trust’s chief scientific advisor, said: ‘We’ve spent about 18 months looking at habitats across Scotland and talking to various stakeholders about a trial reintroduction.
‘Based on ecological factors like deer density and habitat suitability, three areas have been identified for much more intensive consultation.

‘This will ultimately lead to a multiple site application to Scottish Natural Heritage to carry out a trial reintroduction. No lynx attack on a human has ever been recorded anywhere. Lynx reintroduction is a controversial issue with sheep farming unions concerned the cats would decimate herds.

‘Numerous independent studies make clear that sheep are an exceptionally rare target for lynx, even when the two live side by side. Farming unions have repeatedly over-stated the threat, even claiming that lynx could threaten the food security of the entire UK, which is pure fantasy. We will offer farmers a range of support with predator mitigation techniques and provide full insurance against lynx predation.’

‘There are clear examples of lynx bringing phenomenal eco-tourism revenue and jobs to remote rural areas,’ he added.

Wildlife biologist Dr O’Donoghue, a former senior lecturer at Chester University, sued Woburn Safari Park for unfair dismissal in 2009.

He sued Bedford Estates, which owns the safari park, after he left his job, saying he was forced out after raising concerns about the park.

After hearings at Bedford Employment Tribunals Service, he dropped his case for constructive dismissal in 2011. An official from the Bedford Employment Tribunals Service confirmed the case had been settled.

Andrew Gemmill, of Ifferdale Lamb, at Saddell, agreed with Councillor Armour and said: ‘From a farmer’s point of view, keeping sheep is not easy with the existing predators, including foxes, hooded crows and ravens. In addition, over forestation gives predators plenty places to hide. I don’t see any merit in this suggestion.’

The Campbeltown Courier attempted to contact Dr O’Donoghue on several occasions but he had not responded by the time the paper went to press.