Large predator reintroduction

Tuesday 21 January 2014, 20:09

Tim Scoones Tim Scoones Excecutive Producer 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.


Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Modern day wildlife has adapted to living since these predators have been removed
    Should they be reintroduced again then the ecosystem will be devastated as there will be no natural instinct to avoid them
    Also I do believe the predators will target easy options i e farm and domestic animals

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I agree that large predators should be reintroduced in the most remote areas of the uk on a controlled basis(with suitable armed guards to prevent poaching) but if Scotland chooses independence would the project still go ahead or be cancelled by the so called new government

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I do not think reintroducing Lynx or Wolverine would be controversial no record of those creatures attacking humans Lynx would help control the deer population across the UK. Why not start with those two predators if they are successful then think about the more controversial wolf, the bear would be an even longer term option if ever. Wolves are said to have moved back into Holland so why not here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    I believe we should have a long term goal to reintroduce everything. People around the world live with these animals in harmony. Alleviating of peoples' fears through education and changing of the culture will help.
    Maybe just start off with the Lynx first. It may attract people to the outdoors more to see them and they'll be a new found culture of respect for our countryside. We need to reduce the demand for housing not focus on increasing the supply. I'll be voting UKIP then it seems.
    Within my lifetime I'd like to see bears back in the Highlands somewhere (I'm 28).

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    @Oldfellow Do you have any evidence to support that? Instinct is something that occurs without prior knowledge of a threat.

    @IanDunn There are no plans to reintroduce large carnivores so how would an Independant Scotland cancel those non-existent plans. If anything if Scotland becomes independant it would be more likely to have more reintroductions. Not saying Im for it though.

    @ModHarry I agree with you on the issue of lynx however Wolverine is more controversial as unlike wolves they are known to be prolific predators of sheep and it is still debated if man was the cause of their extinction.

    @Luke If you care about the environment stay away from UKIP. They are climate change skeptics and don't want to back conservation efforts. As well as this they say they oppose any schemes that would introduce large preadtors but yet they say they are in favour of schemes that would introduce any missing native species which blatantly contradicts itself. Im 16 and Im hoping and optimistic that there will be wolves and lynx wild in my country in my lifetime. Bears are a lot more problematic and would probably be only able to achieve a semi-wild state at best.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Lynx yes, wolves probably, bears I'm a bit doubtful of. I think a lot of public education would be needed though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    I live in Switzerland where some predators have been reintroduced or have wandered across the borders. There have been problems with bears and wolves. The wolves are very destructive and kill numerous sheep which eventually leads to them being hunted and shot. The bears also seem to come to sticky ends and are shot or hit by cars/trains. I believe that there are lynxes but so far they have not become a nuisance and keep out of sight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    crazy people who want to bring back the predators, we have enough trouble with foxes killing our vole population, now the do- gooders want to bring back the bigger predators to kill what they want. the same do-gooders have had peregrines and sparrowhawk bred in captiverty and released into the wild and they are decimating the song bird population, so get your head from out of you're backsides and stop thinking you should play GOD. save our song birds and mammals from the dogooding idiots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    @Steeven You obviously have little undertsanding of ecology. Why are you valuing the lives of voles and songbirds above those of foxes and birds of prey? Your reasoning is completely flawed and doesn't make scientific sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    If Red deer inhibit natural forest regeneration then lets reintroduce wolves as the most natural way of balancing the ecosystem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Hi Again,

    We do have a duty to re-establish true wilderness since we as a species are the ones who destroyed it in the first place.

    To further what I wrote the other day on wind-turbines, let me say that the RSPB. is public-enemy numbr one. Does anyone remember Spring Watch a few years ago now, when we saw on one of their own nature reserves, using their fixed cameras, a sheep trampling on Common Sandpiper eggs, with Kate Humble merrily saying, 'this is just part of their management on the reserve. I remember suggesting at the time, 'that they could remove the sheep from the breeding areas throughout the season,' and when they didn't do that I said, 'if the RSPB. was going to manage its own reserves the same as every other bog-standard farmer, then they might as well sell up and let them get on with it.'

    You can forget about the RSPB. saving the Hen Harrier too. With their disgusting support for wind-farms all over the moorlands and the utter disregard for life they've shown for all avial species.

    In this year's 'Winter Watch' we heard Chis Packham talking about 'the numerous species we'll be seeing on our bird-feeders. Over the past month I think I've seen three; Great Tits, Blue Tits and an odd Great Spotter Woodpecker. Wake up everyone for God's sake do. There are no birds out there! Forget about all the images you've seen on the programme, these are one or two select places where birds are still to be found.

    Go for that walk in the wider countryside and all you will find are eerily silent trees and empty skies. A ghostly reminder for everyone whenever you go out there for a walk!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    @scottishwildlifewatcher Can you explain what you think my way of viewing ecosystems is? Also where did you get the figures you quoted from for profit made by estates and what would this profit be made from? the idea that wolves can control our current deer population in my opinion is quite unrealistic and conflict with livestock farmers will be a big problem, just look at why they were hunted to extinction in the first place.

    In what way do domestic cats compete with wildcats? for food? then they will compete with Lynx aswell, all large predators in scotland compete for the same food. Is there the prey base to support another 2 predators and what studies have been done into this? Can you tell me how adding more predators adds to a better ecosystem, this doesnt create more links it just makes it more top heavy im my opinion.

    I suggest you do some more research into deer management in scotland, the emphasis in culling deer to my mind is to cull the poorer, weaker deer to create a stronger gene pool as you say, stalking deer in scotland is more about the sport than the trophy.

    I live and work in the scottish highlands and am quite happy with the way it looks, the variety of habitats we have, the wildlife we have and the jobs that are created through the landscape we have created over the years. Im all for saving the last remnants of caledonian forest and if we need to cull more deer to do so then fine but personally i dont want to see the re-introduction of lynx or wolves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    Absolutely wolves and Lynx especially should be reintroduced to the Scotish Highlands. The red deer have and conttinue to, absolutely descimate whats left of the caledonian pine forest and what remains is as much a part of Scotlands rich natural heritage as the deer themselves and the estates who are basically farming them on the hill before charging extortionate rates to shoot them..These trees must be allowed to regenerate while many old parent trees are still able and producing viable seed in order to preserve genetic providence of this unique forests diversity.

    I don't see the need for bears so much at the minute. I have limited knowledge but I do know that Scotlands's wild salmon populations and fresh water pearl mussels are in enough trouble without being predated.

    high profile reintroductions do give a false sense of the state of biodiversity conservation in the UK we need to focus on securing habitat and promoting sanctuary. In Cork in Ireland the reintroduction of the white tailed Kerry sea eagle has been mared by parent birds being obliterated by wind turbines last year as the moved between the coast and Kilarney National Park, The same in donegal with golden eagles in Glenveagh to the point that Norway has refused to give Ireland any more of it's genetic material for reintroduction because of their it's wind turbine policy. Follow the money trail in the RSPB and it's descision makers at the top

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    I think the problem is how to mix humans and large carnivores without conflict between them. In a country of the size and population of England this would surely be impossible - even on places like Dartmoor, there are domestic animals all over it - and large predators will attack domestic animals, since they don't react in the way that wild herbivores do, and are thus easy prey. They would be easy targets and that will cause immediate conflict with farmers and others. Scotland perhaps has larger areas without human influence by way of domestic animals or animals such as game birds which have a value. I suggest that the best way for form an informed opinion about this is to have a look at the website
    That is a charity which works to reconcile the various conflicting interests. This argument is a classic of conflicting views of those who will not be directly affected, and those that might be. Very broadly, well intentioned townspeople and equally well intentioned country people. And some not so well intentioned from both sides. Personally I would love to think that there were wild lynx, safe, somewhere in England. And perhaps there are. When we lived on Dartmoor there were frequent rumours of a large cat prowling around but try as we may, we never saw it. And that is how it would be with a lynx. Wolves however, much as they are intelligent and interesting animals, do not mix with us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Re the lynx /wolf introduction am in part agreement with iean - I believe a well organised and carefully monitored introduction would help balance the ecosystem with the predation on deer preventing the need to cull ( possibly the money saved on the culling being set against the cost of introduction/any negative effects of predation). The introduction of both species could lead too massive surges in Wildlife tourism for Scotland again if organised could produce an income to counter costs. I am planning to do the Scotland 'big five' this spring and would jump at the chance to do the 'big seven' - As a lover of all things wild LYNX in the wild on my doorstep sends my heart racing - I really hope it happens.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The problem as I see it is GB is only an island the space we can introduce these animals Scotland not a great deal of space up there, Lynx and wolfes would soon clear the countryside of deer and rabbits. I live in the far south of England farming country ,we still have hunts going on ,so with hunts and irate farmers .... no chance of getting off the ground

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    @scotishwildlifewatcher. I do understand the echo system of which man is the top predator, with the introduction of these predators comes a protection order against the top predator from hunting them and protecting their live stock and grouse moors, when these predators roamed our island there was no where near the amount of humans in Britain not many built up areas for the predators to stray in to and get a easy meal be it a child,adult,pet or livestock, we are only a small island so the predators unchecked would run riot we have hunting laws forced on us, they won't because the dogooders want to play god,

    Answer me this if a pet dog go's into a field of sheep the law says the farmer can shoot it to protect them,this law is correct will he be able to do it if a lynx or wolves do it ? I very much doubt it.. as the gamekeeper cannot protect his grouse,partridge and pheasants from the introduced raptors

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    I think that reintroducing the wolf and lynx is an excellent idea for recreating a properly functioning environment. Unfortunately far too many people in this country who are in powerful positions or who own lots of land believe that the sensible way to manage the environment is to kill the few predators that we still have. Then of course we have the ones who will rub their hands with delight at the prospect of having something else that they can kill for fun. I fear that until we have wildlife laws that are both respected and enforced all such a reintroduction would do is to condemn more animals to slaughter

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    @steeven I think that complaining that you aren't allowed to slaughter rare raptors to 'protect' your grouse , partridge and pheasants in order that they are available for people with lots of money and few morals to shoot for fun, sort of proves my point

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    @88 steeven "now the do- gooders want to bring back the bigger predators to kill what they want. the same do-gooders have had peregrines and sparrowhawk bred in captiverty and released into the wild and they are decimating the song bird population"

    You clearly don't understand the predator-prey relationship. Perergrines and sparrowhawks are not responsible for the decline in songbird numbers: they have been part of the same ecosystem for millennia. It is human destruction of songbird habitat that is to blame.


Page 5 of 7

This entry is now closed for comments

Share this page

More Posts

Deer management

Tuesday 21 January 2014, 19:42

Wet-weather lovers

Wednesday 22 January 2014, 16:51

About this Blog

SpringwatchAutumnwatch and Winterwatch Blog. A place to talk UK Nature.

Blog Updates

Stay updated with the latest posts from the blog.

Subscribe using:

What are feeds?

Springwatch tweets


We moved recently but you can still view Springwatch 2012 and older posts.