Autumnwatch & Springwatch

On Tuesday night's Winterwatch we showed a film that painted a picture of what the UK may have been like when it was covered in ancient forest, including the presence of large predators such as lynx, wolf and bears.

These large predators are long gone... though here at Mar Lodge there were wolves as recently as the 17th Century.

Some people talk about bringing them back, and some European countries have run pilot studies to do just that.

We know that this idea always prompts an interesting debate among our audience, so do use the Comments button below to let us know what you think.

Could - or should - we re-introduce any of our ancient woodland large predators back to the UK?

As ever, we ask you to please respect the opinions of others.

Comments

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  • Comment number 121. Posted by ascot

    on 3 Feb 2014 22:31

    @smeggyreggy in my opinion introducing lynx will further threaten our native wildcat due to competition for food and habitat after all they are a shy elusive creature which are rarely seen and will probably prefer to live in the remotest areas of Scotland. How they will 'sort out' domestic cats by living in these areas I don't know! I'd take a guess that the largest populations of Roe deer are to be found on lowland and farmland areas which are subject to regular human disturbance so probably wouldn't be suitable habitat for lynx, but then again pine martens are meant to be shy and elusive but ask anyone in the Highlands if they've lost their chickens to one you'll probably get a few ayes! As for money made from tourism, well Sea eagles are popular purely because your almost guaranteed to see them which wouldn't be the same for wolves or lynx.

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  • Comment number 120. Posted by SmeggyReggy

    on 2 Feb 2014 10:24

    @ascot, domestic cats are irrelevant. Lynx would be reintroduced to help control deer numbers. When's the last time you saw a tabby cat hunting a deer? There will be minimal competition between lynx and domestics as long as deer numbers are still high. Even if there is competition for small prey, the lynx would win, which would be a pretty good thing considering that domestic cats aren't supposed to be here naturally, have driven some of our natural small predators (wildcat) to the brink of extinction, and have a hugely negative impact on our bird life. The sooner we get lynx here to sort them out, the better!

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  • Comment number 119. Posted by BillTheHat

    on 1 Feb 2014 21:19

    What do you mean re-introduce ? I have photographs of 2 trees, taken today, which appear to have been used as scratching posts by large cats, I'm guessing a lynx is responsible.

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  • Comment number 118. Posted by ascot

    on 28 Jan 2014 21:44

    @scottishwildlifewatcher I read the report you mentioned and though it shows an increase in profit through not having a hind cull the number of stags will be greatly reduced so less profit may be made. It also says that there is ' little economic demand for hunting' i would dispute this as many estates now sell a lot of their hind stalking and the price of venison has also risen, perhaps making a hind cull profitable. They also dont take into account predation of livestock and then later say ' In the highlands of Spain where sheep roam freely as much as they do in Scotland, wolf predation is responsible for 80% of natural mortality (blanco 2000)' hardly 'minimal' . Would the taxpayer be happy footing the compensation bill for that! There is also a report into the reduction of the elk herd in yellowstone and it seems that there are many other factors which are more significant in the reduction of numbers than predation by wolves.

    I see we have gone from talking about domestic cats to feral ones which is a different story. I imagine Lynx dont exclusively eat roe deer so they would compete for small prey with other cats. My basic understanding of a healthy upland ecosystem is of a pyramid shape which is bottom heavy and supports everything above it. Introducing 2 more predators at the top would undoubtably change the ecosystem which wouldnt be a problem if man didnt depend on parts of the uplands to make a living.

    In my opinion the average stag in this country is smaller than in Europe purely because of climatic conditions which also affect our ecosystems. Compare our climate at the moment to spains for example, hardly the conditions for breeding animals of any size. As for the uplands being in a sorry state thats your opinion, 'heather desert' is decreasing in size and look at what has mainly replaced it, blanket conifer plantation, I know what i would rather have!

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  • Comment number 117. Posted by Favourini

    on 27 Jan 2014 18:41

    I think the Lynx would be a great candidate for reintroduction. It is a beautiful creature and is shy and solitary, posing no danger to humans. It would also help keep deer, rabbits etc under control. The Iberian lynx is on the critical list of endangered species - so this might be the variety to choose if it could survive so far north. If not, there have already been successful projects in Europe (eg Germany, Italy, Switzerland) to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx - if these very highly populated countries can do it, why can't we?. There are huge tracts of wilderness and forest in the Scottish highlands where it could live in peace.

    I'd also be in favour of reintroducing wolves, though this might need a little more negotiation given the traditional prejudice against this animal (!). The lynx might be a good ambassador for reintroduction of large predators.

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  • Comment number 116. Posted by adrian52

    on 27 Jan 2014 17:17

    @Robert I think you will find that these animals were hunted to extinction for sport / trophies / the bloodlust of psychopaths. The very same type of idiot that bemoans the ban on fox hunting, whilst blatantly flouting the law. It is not sensible or logical to meddle with an ecosystem by killing all the predators. You could live for a very long time in even quite remote parts of North America without ever seeing a bear or a wolf. I know this from experience.Predator numbers are self governing according to the availability of prey and generally don't need culling, whatever those who wish to excuse taking lives for fun would have us believe.

    I think that the pro-hunters are not aware that it doesn't matter how many times you repeat a lie, it still doesn't become the truth.

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  • Comment number 115. Posted by Robert

    on 27 Jan 2014 16:35

    I'm not sure that a planned reintroduction of large predators is a good thing. The reason they are extinct in Britain is most probably that man took over and they were a threat to livestock and man in recent years and had to be got rid of. If such a plan was successful we would only bring misery on our landowners and residents by laws which would prevent them from killing. As fox-hunting was banned we now see an increase in the Fox population which, ok, can be shot on land, but never the less they have grown in population and now invade our Towns and Cities where they have to be "dealt with", where necessary by the Authorities. My point to this is that if a large predator population were to increase and threaten man then all sorts of concerns would be raised about safety and ultimately, the go-ahead to "cull" or "destroy" them would be a huge issue. (I am thinking here about the populations of Bear, Wolf, Cougar, Puma, which roam the human settlement estates of Canada and the US, India and other parts of Asia). No, I don't think reintroduction should be done.
    Best Wishes, and thanks for a wonderful TV programme

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  • Comment number 114. Posted by Jacqui Woodland

    on 25 Jan 2014 21:32

    I am watching Winter watch on catch up, and was quite amazed to see a wolf, the reason being last winter I was in my garden' when out of the woods came what I thought was a large dog, but as it got closer a dog it wasn't ! It was grey and extremely large, it stood about a foot away from me then strolled off back into the wood, could this have been a wolf ??

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  • Comment number 113. Posted by SmeggyReggy

    on 25 Jan 2014 12:48

    In addition, @Scottishwildlifewatcher is right. Wolves and other predators are pretty elusive creatures anyway, and if there's one thing that the huge persecution has taught them, it's to stay as far from humanity as possible. Their numbers may increase rapidly at first, but at that point the deer numbers will drop, and therefore so will the numbers of predators - it's called logic.

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  • Comment number 112. Posted by SmeggyReggy

    on 25 Jan 2014 12:41

    It'll be the best thing to happen in Britain for natural stability of wildlife, and save money in culling the deer. The large predators evolved to keep the natural balance and prevent animals like deer from becoming to numerous, so this will clearly be the most natural solution. It was down to humans that they went extinct in Britain the first place, upsetting the balance of nature, so it's now our obligation to bring that balance back and learn to live alongside these animals. I'm sure farmers might not share that viewpoint, but they need to accept that these animals have a natural right to be there and that it's them who will need to adapt to having them around. Lynx, wolves, bears, bring them all back!

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