There is “sufficient appetite” in Scotland for exploring lynx reintroduction, according to the first detailed study into the social feasibility of the species’ return.
The research, commissioned by the Lynx to Scotland project, found a broad consensus among communities, farmers and other stakeholders for taking the next steps towards reintroduction.
The study has recommended setting up a Lynx Action Group to explore whether current concerns around reintroduction can be overcome.
Lynx, a species of wild cat, were last recorded in Britain around 1,300 years ago before going extinct due to hunting and habitat loss. They are known as a type of “keystone” species, meaning they maintain balance and diversity in an ecosystem, with the wider environment suffering damage in their absence.
Over the past few years, lynx have spread across continental Europe following successful reintroductions, but similar projects are yet to get going in the UK.
Previous research suggests the Scottish Highlands are the most feasible location for lynx reintroduction, with enough land to support a population of around 400 animals.