Saturday, 8 July 2017

Northumbrian Lynx?

This is now a plan, to reintroduce the Eurasian Lynx to the Kielder Forest in Northumberland, to "control the deer".

There is a need for some method of deer control in Southern England, which is heavily populated (by people as well as deer), that does not involve high-powered rifles, but there is actually no problem controlling deer in the remote and lonely Kielder Forest by this method: it just needs organising in a sensible way.
Red Deer
Lynx are very efficient hunters of deer, providing they are the right sort of deer: Roe Deer or Reindeer, or possibly even Fallow Deer (though Medawar hasn't heard of an instance of a Lynx catching a fully-grown Fallow Deer.) The deer in the Kielder Forest are Red Deer, the largest species found in the British isles, and the Northumbrian population of Red Deer tend to be larger than Red Deer found elsewhere in the British Isles. Archaeological evidence suggests that in the past, Northumberian Red Deer were about a foot taller than they are today, but they are still the biggest completely wild land animal in the UK. Roe Deer, which Lynx do catch, are much smaller, and Reindeer, which Lynx in Scandinavia sometimes catch, are also smaller than Red Deer.

Red Deer in the Kielder Forest are almost certainly going to prove too big and tough for Lynx to tackle, and, since there aren't anything like as many Roe Deer in Northumberland as there are in Surrey, for example, the Lynx will have to catch rabbits to survive. This means they will move out of the rabbit-free dense forest, where they will encounter sheep. And eat them.

Introduce Wolves instead of Lynx, and it will be discovered that a single pack of wolves requires a hunting territory much larger than the Kielder Forest, and again, the sheep will cop it. Wolves invariably go for the easiest possible prey, and that is not a description of any Red Deer that Medawar has met.

Introduce Lynx to the Home Counties, where woods (and gardens) are being devoured by Roe Deer and the similar-sized introduced Muntjac Deer, and progress might be made. The experiment in the Kielder Forest will probably fail, though.

There have been some records of Sika Deer, presumably escaped from Deer farms, in the Kielder Forest, but the main species there remains the Red Deer. Sika Deer are remarkably difficult to stalk, too.

Addition: 10/7/2017
Video embedded, which will give the reader an idea of how densely populated the central Northumberland region is...

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