Monday, December 19, 2016

About Britain's missing predators by Trees For Life

Lynx: The lynx is a beautiful, largely, solitary ambush hunter. They present no real danger to humans. And in Scotland, it would be a little threat to livestock. There is plenty of habitat and wild play for them. And the lynx could help to control roe deer populations. They would also disperse deer and help prevent overgrazing the forest. What could be out of objections? There are not many who did not support wolf or bear reintroductions. But I do believe that the lynx would be a much easier and life challenging animal to live alongside. The reality is that these predators are shy. And most people walking through the territories would never see them. Just imagine how it would feel to walk amongst hills and forest, knowing that these charismatic animals were there. To be in the presence of these of such powerful and beautiful creatures. Safe in the knowledge that they're more likely to run away than come anywhere near us. Is there anywhere that could support lynxes? Although Britain is a clouded island, the Scottish highlands is the wildest and least populated areas of Europe. And there is evidence to show that it could support lynxes, and even the more controversial wolf.

Wolf: The wolf has been feared for millennia, until it was finally wiped out around 260 years ago. It suffered hugely from the superstitions that built up around it. But in reality, this is a shy and intelligent animal. And its sinister fairytale images undeserved. We now know that the threat to humans from wolves is minuscule. In the past 50 years, there have only been 17 fatal attacks on humans in the whole of Europe, Russia, and North America. Domestic dogs and even horses are statitiscally far more dangerous to humans. We can't avoid risk, but we humans are fickle and often like to choose some risks or others. We also know that there's enough prey and habitat for wolves, at least in Scotland. There is real concern that they might prey on sheep and dogs. But we can learn lessons from other countries that live alongside these animals. Techniques for protecting livestock and dogs, as well as compensation schemes for their loss have been used in other parts of Europe and the United States. Will Britons be willing to adopt such schemes? Could you make them work here? If so, we can reap the benefits of wolf tourism, as it's now the case in the USA. In Yellowstone National Park were wolves were finally reintroduced, thousands of visitors come every year for the opportunity to hear wolves howling. And if they're lucky to catch a glimpse of these shy and elusive animals, perhaps the wolf's absence in Britain for 260 years has been too long.

Bear: Of all our missing predators, the bear is the one who presents the biggest challenge. Today, we don't have enough habitat for bears, but perhaps our descendants will one day consider its return. The bear is the only top predator that could pose any significant threat to human safety. Would future generations be prepared to learn ways of avoiding conflict? Knowledge that is taken for granite in parts of Europe and the United States? Only time will tell.

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