The Missing Lynx Project has said farming and lynx can co-exist, and is asking communities in Northumberland and the bordering edges of Cumbria and south Scotland to gives their views on the matter.

The Missing Lynx Project is a partnership between Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Lifescape Project and the Wildlife Trusts.

The partners would support a release of lynx in Northumberland – but only if local people are “willing to accept the animal back to the region”, they said.

The Missing Lynx Project believes the reintroduction of the lynx in Northumberland would bring community-wide benefits and boost local wildlife.

The project is hosting a touring Missing Lynx exhibition with the aim of giving communities a chance to find out more and share their views on bringing back the species.

Last month, the National Sheep Association (NSA) said the potential impact of reintroducing lynx to the English/Scottish borders is “wide and far reaching“.

The trade association’s comments followed the launch of the Missing Lynx Project roadshow exhibition in Northumberland.

The NSA said it is concerned that once again there are plans to prepare for a licence application to release “this predator species into our landscape”.


The Missing Lynx Project said the main prey of lynx is likely to be roe deer, with each lynx likely to kill about 50 deer every year.

This, the project partners said, will have a direct impact on deer numbers but importantly, the lynx will also change deer behaviour.

“With a top carnivore in the environment, deer are more wary and will spend less time feeding in one area, giving woodlands time to recover,” they said.

The partners accepted that there is a “predation risk” to livestock and particularly sheep.

“The varied rates of predation that are experienced across Europe will be discussed in farming focus groups, as will how this risk is managed in different countries and the issue of compensation.”

‘Beneficial impact on rural communities’

The Lifescape Project’s lead ecologist, Dr Deborah Brady, said: “Bringing back lynx can have a beneficial impact on rural economies. Their presence can boost tourism and provide new economic opportunities in rural areas.

“In the Harz Mountains in Germany the reintroduced lynx have helped boost tourism. Even though they are rarely seen, just knowing that lynx are there makes people want to visit.

“As part of the consultation by the Missing Lynx Project, local ideas on business opportunities will be captured through a community business plan.”

Brady said it is vital that any plans to reintroduce lynx back to the UK must be evidence-based, with a clear long-term strategy, and involve local communities and farmers.

“This is precisely why the Missing Lynx Project is asking communities in the area for people’s views on lynx.

“In France, Germany and Switzerland communities coexist with lynx and are able to live alongside them.

“Lynx are very rarely seen, but despite this some regions are going to great lengths to help lynx thrive again because of the benefits that they bring.”

Threat to sheep

Northumberland farmer, John Cresswell, said he foes not believe that lynx would pose a “significant threat” to sheep in the area because they are ambush predators of woodland, and do not tend to emerge into open countryside.

His sheep, and others around him, graze in open fields and pastures.

“Furthermore, research in Europe suggests that where there are roe deer, lynx would much prefer to eat these as an alternative,” he said.

“We are not short of roe. Now that we have more woodland in the region it would seem entirely appropriate to review the opportunities for lynx reintroduction.”

Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s chief executive, Mike Pratt, said: “The Missing Lynx Project is at the start of a conversation about lynx – we want to listen to people and hear their opinions. No reintroduction of lynx will happen unless local people accept lynx back again.

“Nature is in crisis and one in six species is now at risk of extinction in this country.

“Lynx are one of the native species that were once part of the rich mix of wildlife found in our countryside and one of many species that have vanished due to human impact.

“We welcome everyone to the exhibition who wants to find out more and voice their opinion.”