The Farmers’ Union of Wales says the authorities reacted appropriately in deciding to shoot an escaped lynx after a specialist veterinary surgeon advised that the risk to public well-being had increased from moderate to severe.
The escaped Eurasian lynx was already suspected of having killed seven sheep within a few hundred yards of the town of Borth, in Ceredigion, after escaping from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, and had since strayed into a populated area.
“In an ideal world the lynx would have been quickly recaptured, but this did not happen,” said an FUW spokesman.
“Given the risk to people and livestock, action to remove such a danger was long overdue. Had the animal not been allowed to escape in the first place, this situation would not have arisen, and it seems a number of our member’s livestock would not have been attacked and killed.”
Sheep have been found to make up more than a third of wild lynx diets in Norway, alongside bigger herbivores such as roe deer, reindeer and even moose. Attacks by lynxes on humans have also been recorded, but are rare.
“Despite being around the size of a sheepdog, an animal like this will routinely kill animals much bigger than itself, and the fact it was used to humans increased the risk it posed to the public,” said the FUW spokesman.
“Some have already expressed their outrage over the shooting, but the public reaction would have been far greater had the animal attacked an adult or child, as has happened elsewhere.”
Last week the the FUW wrote to the Welsh Government and the local Police Commissioner expressing concerns that the danger the animal posed was not being taken seriously.
With proposals to introduce lynx to the north of England, and even parts of Wales, the FUW says the incident should come as a stark warning.
“It is no coincidence that the places targeted for campaigns to release lynxes are remote rural areas, and claims their impacts on livestock are negligible are not borne out by the evidence from the continent.
“If they are really as harmless as some people say, why aren’t we considering their release in heavily populated areas such as Surrey?”
(A study of the diets of Eurasian lynx in southeastern Norway from 1995 to 1999 found summer prey species to comprise: sheep (36%), hare (19%), roe deer (16%), capercaillie (14%), reindeer (4%), goat (3%), black grouse (3%), moose (1%), pine marten (1%), other (4%) [Odden et al., Eur J Wildl Res DOI 10.1007/s10344-006-0052-4])
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Farmers' Union of Wales