That's not to say they don't lose animals to predators, but the estimates of the actual numbers have been fought over in Norway for decades.
IIRC 100k sheep are lost and 20k of those are to predators.
So if this is just for tourism and/or as a vanity project and there are no solid ecological or scientific reasons, I'm not seeing a convincing justification for this.
If you've visited Scotland's countryside, you might have noticed the sweeping vistas of grassy green fields, yellow bushy marshes, and purple heather -- and a conspicuous absence of any trees. It's a very unnatural landscape, historically speaking.
Scotland (along with the rest of the UK) cut down most of their old growth forests in the industrial revolution, and also eliminated all of the large predators. As a result, the wild deer population is out of control, and even with management (read: stalking wild deer) there are so many deer that it's impossible to simply plant trees and have them reforest; deer will eat and destroy the saplings before they can mature.
This arrests the natural reforestation that would occur over time, and makes even managed projects expensive -- for example here's a charity that is working on reforesting a plot of land in Scotland: https://bordersforesttrust.org/places/wild-heart/carrifran-w.... They had to hire someone to kill deer on their land to protect the new trees, even after expensive plastic casings.
That's a long-winded bit of context, but the summarized argument for re-introducing large predators is that they would help to control the damaging and out-of-balance wild deer population, reducing the amount of human intervention required, and allowing the countryside to revert back to its natural forested state.
>An examination of the earliest maps of Scotland suggests that the extent of the Caledonian Forest remnants has changed little since 1600.
To put that in some perspective, a Roman legion (roughly 5,000 men) in the Late Republic might have carried into battle around 44,000kg (c. 48.5 tons) of iron – not counting pots, fittings, picks, shovels and other tools we know they used. That iron equipment in turn might represent the mining of around 541,200kg (c. 600 tons) of ore, smelted with 642,400kg (c. 710 tons) of charcoal, made from 4,620,000kg (c. 5,100 tons) of wood. Cutting the wood and making the charcoal alone, from our figures above, might represent something like (I am assuming our charcoal-burners are working in teams) 80,000 man-days of labor. For one legion. https://acoup.blog/2020/09/25/collections-iron-how-did-they-...
Lindybeige has a good video on the topic. It doesn't quite go back to Roman times though.
In Roman times... We know, for instance, that Elba was almost totally deforested during the Roman period to fuel the bloomeries smelting the ore and Pliny notes in his Natural History that smelting (not always of iron) had substantially reduced forest-stocks in parts of Gaul and Campagnia. Roman iron production in the eastern High Weald of England may have deforested something like 500km2 over the course of three centuries and there is reason to believe that Roman-period iron production in this area stopped because of scarcity of fuel, rather than ore. Iron-working was hardly the only factor in the steady deforestation of Europe, but it was a major factor.
So apparently Roman-era metal production was sufficient to deforest isolated large islands, but probably not for mainland areas better able to reforest themselves.
As someone born and raised in the highlands, I found it well balanced as well as providing a realistic depiction of the Highland winter.
We have a few cougars and wolves and a pretty robust hunting season and it doesn't make much in the way of a difference.
Ed: I stand corrected, I guess.
Google says there are 100,000 deer, 200,000 reindeer and ~1200 lynx. So there's enough that they could make a difference (but it matters a lot how often they would take a deer).
And this isn’t a deer extermination project either: it’s a lynx reintroduction project.
Introducing non-native species can have unexpected consequences. Though lynxes do prey on deer, they also prey on birds and smaller mammals, which would put them in competition with Scottish wildcats, which are endangered. We can't be sure that introducing lynxes won't drive Scottish wildcats to extinction.
There are other solutions to the problem you mention. Deer can be shot and the venison sold in supermarkets and other outlets (restaurants, once COVID-19 is under control). This already happens, albeit on a small scale. Venison could also be exported but there's now a lot of extra paperwork which needs to be done now that we've left the EU.
He doesn't have a dog, but some of his neighbors sometimes have their dogs cower up to their owners during walks because they smell wolves. Supposedly some people have seen wolves stalking their dogs, but I haven't heard of dogs being killed by wolves in the area.
It's mostly safe for adults, but I wouldn't let a kid run around alone in my dad's yard, mostly for fear of the rapidly flowing small river, but also due to wolves and bears.
We have extremely strict gun control and hunting is usually limited to employees of the estates or visitors who have paid a hefty fee to hunt on the estate. Hunting here is much more controlled and limited than it is in North America or elsewhere.
Source: Highlands born and raised, live in Canada.
If you have eaten wild game that tasted good I suspect it was augmented in some way. We used have some sort of gravy or marinade on deer meat and pin some bacon on partridge.
"Gordon Ramsay Demonstrates How To Cook Venison With A Red Wine & Chocolate Sauce"
BTW: To me, rabbit tastes like boiled chicken.
I would find it gross and traumatic to the point where I might lose my lunch. I eat meat, but if I had to butcher my own meat I'd go vegetarian.
I like your solution though, I'm surprised that the market doesn't just solve the problem to the point where we're worried about there being too few deer - is hunting limited or is there not enough demand for venison?
It's one thing to do these things once a month on a hunting trip for leisure versus doing it nearly every week in order to maintain your property or community. It's like the difference between gardening as a hobby versus farming as a lifestyle.
The amount of hunting needed to control the deer population and the population of able bodied and sufficiently interested hunters simply doesn't scale properly in most communities.
Predators who hunt as their main purpose and niche in life seems like a more viable solution if we determine how to keep the livestock predation to an acceptable level.
> I'm surprised that the market doesn't just solve the problem to the point where we're worried about there being too few deer
The market has solved the problem of food: it is plentiful, cheap and varied. That has decreased the need to hunt to the point that most of those who do so are making a lifestyle choice that is not strictly economical but does in some way provide a respectable and different experience or quality of life they enjoy.
 As always I feel compelled to remind people that “most” is not a synonym for “all”.
I don't mean to be impolite or judgmental, but I'm wondering if can you share a bit more about how you're able to justify it when someone else is doing the dirty work? I too eat meat, and part of my desire to learn to hunt is to experience the full effect of it, from stalk, to kill, to cleaning, to plate. I've never cleaned anything larger than a redfish, but it's something I'm intensely curious about.
That's just because you're not used to it. My grand-mother used to kill and butcher chickens, guinea hens and rabbits in front of me as a kid and I've been to quite a few post-hunting parties. It just doesn't move anymore.
I'm a city boy, but I was sent to the countryside every once in a while to learn how to kill and butcher animals so I could respect what nature has given us.
That said I've no qualms about doing the "dirty work" myself, if necessary. I can't imagine how it ever would be, but I'm kinda grateful I got to see where meat, and to a lesser extent crops, come from. As well as appreciating exactly how much work it is.
Nowadays I have a small allotment for growing food, but I know damn well farming life is not for me. For fun at a tiny scale is interesting and rewarding. Doing it commercially is a hell of a lot of work. (Though I know nothing of the American-styled "super-farms" with all the automation.)
I mean if nothing else there’s value there in animal feed
Yep, children will always remember with joy their first exposure to the marvels of Cephenemyia. Like catching apples in a barrel but a much more vibrating activity.
Not to mention the investment in time and money involved with hunting.
I certainly don't recommend anyone "stalk" across the denuded Scottish hills.
Three falses in a row. First, Eurasian Lynx is so endangered in UK that is in fact locally extinct. You can't be more endangered than that. Moreover, Spanish lynx is still one of the most critically endangered mammals in the planet
Aggressive is relative. IMHO, a pack of wild dogs pursuing a zebra for a couple of miles (before to eat it in chunks while alive) is aggressive. Lynx are ambush predators that avoid humans.
UK ecology has several problems. One of this is the fever of introducing exotic game species and specially deer. Apart of roe and red are: fallow deer, chinese water deer, asian muntjac and japanese deer. All introduced by hunters. Their populations are increasing and trying to pack as many plant eaters as possible in absence of predators is a very bad idea. To add pressure to the unfortunate trees of Scotland there are also rabbits and zillions of cattle. This is blocking the regeneration of forests, keeping many areas deforested and eroded and severely reducing the populations of many bird species.
Must be also noted that deer can be also dangerous for humans and can (and will) stab dogs but, for some reason, pet safety was not seen as a problem in that case.
> This is just for tourism
Great then, a powerful reason to do it and a win-win for the local people.
If hunters were allowed for decades the right to release as many alien species that they liked, it seems a little hypocritical to criticize hotel owners or wildlife photographers for wanting to release native animals that they like also. Either everybody can do it or nobody should do it. All citizens having the same rights and duties is in the basis of a modern society
Diversification of economy is always the safest and smartest move. Not everybody must be a farmer.
> Eurasian Lynx is so endangered in UK that is in fact locally extinct. You can't be more endangered than that.
Eurasian Lynx is listed as “Least Concern”. That there aren’t any in Scotland has no bearing on this. This is a bewildering comment.
> Aggressive is relative ... some crap about zebras
It will be _the_ apex predator in the UK. It can bring down a deer. Wild comparisons to Africa and pack animals are bizarre when taking about introducing a new apex predator to a country that hasn’t had a predator of its size or power in centuries.
> some shit about deer
If deer are truly a problem, it turns out they’re pretty easy to shoot, some people enjoy it, and there’s money to be made from dead deer. You could introduce a new disruptive predator, sure. You could also poison the water source, but it’s also a freakin’ terrible solution to a problem with a much simpler solution.
And talking about that, I had seen before hunters bragging about how they can solve in a week what the stupid biologists were unable to solve in ten years. They always say the same.
Ok. Do it. Try it. I'll be waiting here.
I still haven't seen -one- real problem solved correctly by the bang bang experts, only lots of money burnt to achieve nothing. The list of problems that they create for other people is endless and well documented, from dozens of new diseases introduced, to game species extinct for greed, to entire populations of preys collapsing after removing the predators.
It is not critically endangered in the UK, it is several centuries extinct. The world is in no danger of losing this animal, the ecosystem in the UK has already adapted
Next up you pretend like animal culling is some new practice dreamed up by hunting enthusiasts.
What's the explanation here? Are there just not enough hunters in the UK?
Got a source on that? Having grown up in a rural area where lynx are native... I've seen one, one time, in my entire life (in the wild).
They are invisible. They stay away from people. "Aggressive" is the wrong word.
Are you certain on that last point?
I don't know that much about the lynx but it seems like it might be a useful ideal predator to release to help deal with deer overpopulation. They don't prey on people.
> Wolves are causing a trophic cascade of ecological change, including helping to increase beaver populations and bring back aspen, and vegetation.
Restoring nature to it's former self. No one would need Human Hunters if the Nature is still intact and balances itself, and sometimes Human Hunters cannot balance Nature from lets say from a mice-plague, so you have to kill them with toxic, some of them are still eaten by Owl/Eagle/Fox and are poisoned too, less Owls for the next year(s) means even more mice, so you need more toxins and the circle repeats.
Lynx Fox Wolf and Bear balance the nature and also balance each other. There are many more points why a intact nature is also better for Humans, but the Mouse sample should be enough.
ETA: and we apparently have some moose and wild boar now, on a small scale: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/apr/15/wildlife...
My main source of information is Steve Cracknell who's a writes about rewilding of the Pyrenees as well as hiking. I encountered his blog and twitter as part of my preparation for my thruehike of the Haute Raute Pyrenees. This is his twitter: https://twitter.com/enmarchant
Lamb is not popular in the US. It's a speciality meat. Lamb is common across europe.
Also: Australia: 75m sheep for 25m people Also: New Zealand: 25m sheep for 5m people
A sheep farmer from North York Moors national park in northern England, who owns about 700 sheep over 1,250 acres, makes around £12,000 profit in a good year, and even this small income would be impossible without subsidies worth about £44,000 from the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
Sheep farming is mainly done on uplands and requires massive subsidies to give farmers a ‘liveable’ income
To my mind it's far better to stop farming sheep and pay the farmers to rewild the hills
Alternatively we could just stop subsidising sheep farmers let them go bust and the hills will rewild themselves
So it makes sense the farmers would be opposed to anything that may eat their tiny profit margins
Farmers lose small sheep to foxes. Lynx clean an area of foxes and defend bigger territories. Yes a couple of lynx can kill a lamb here and there, but currently they have yet twelve foxes in the same area trying to do the same all the time and living under the farm basement, so... what option looks better for the farmers? My bet would be "much less foxes and a lynx"
Not a very romantic view I agree, if you're staring at a field of dead lambs and mothers, but farmers need to be philosophical these days. A lot of Australian farmers leave the land shortly after having to shoot stock in drought. Is this really worse?
> In 2018/2019 it was reported that Povlsen owns 221,000 acres (890 km2; 345 sq mi) of land in Scotland, making him the largest landowner there.
Any other exclusions would need to be passed into law, which is highly unlikely to ever happen.
In practice these rights work well for everyone.
With predators, I am unsure what the (quasi?)economic argument would be. I think the environment is healthier with a population of top predators. its possible it would stop rampant deer problems, they eat the living bejesus out of young trees. But the young trees in question are mostly monoculture, cropped trees. We're not talking native forest here mostly, the caledonian forest is a tiny percentage of the plantation state of most of scotlands forestry. (or was, I left in the 80s. I am probably out of date here)
A lot of 'beautiful' landscape is totally manufactured, including grouse moors. The de-forestation of britain across the industrial revolution, and then the highland clearances to replace upland small tenant farming with sheep, was about replacing the landscape with .. other landscape. Forestry Commission plantations are a bit soulless, but Edinburgh Universty has been running forestry management degrees since around 1917, and the need for timber in WWI. A lot of "restore nature" is really "put it back the way my grandfather had it" not "put it back to the doggerland days"
I like wolves and lynx and beavers and storks. Lots of tourists like them. I don't know (absent CAP market support to farmers) which is more net beneficial longterm, the destructive farming patterns, or the tourism. Both have up and downsides.
Non-british resident. I could get "what do you know" answers back. They'd be fair.