'Sufficient support' for further discussion on returning lynx to Scotland
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A new study backs continuing talks about the reintroduction of the big cat though Highland farmers have expressed fears.
The Lynx to Scotland project spent a year consulting national stakeholders and communities in the Cairngorms National Park and Argyll.
The consultation was organised by Scotland: The Big Picture, Trees for Life and Vincent Wildlife Trust.
Peter Cairns, executive director of The Big Picture, said: “We’re in the realm of not yet, but not never.
“This new research shows there is sufficient appetite to develop a more comprehensive understanding of this little-known species and the potential for its return to Scotland.”
The survey found the overriding concern, including from a majority of farmers, was around the potential predation of sheep. There was consensus that exploring mitigations for this should be a priority.
There are sufficient roe deer in Highland to support 400 lynx, say experts.
“Overall, rather than sparking controversy, discussions around lynx reintroduction saw open debates which were passionate, robust and respectful, and contributed different views, knowledge and experiences,” said Jenny MacPherson, science and research manager at Vincent Wildlife Trust.
Research by Scottish Rewilding Alliance in 2020 found that 52 per cent of people in Scotland support lynx reintroduction, with 19 per cent opposed.
Apex predators such as lynx are missing in the UK due to hunting and habitat loss.