Lynx 'kingdom' plans revealed.
Byline: Dave Higgens Reporter
KIELDER in Northumberland could become known as "the kingdom of the lynx" under plans to reintroduce the animal to the British countryside for the first time in more than 1,000 years, an expert says.
The Lynx UK Trust has submitted an application to Natural England to carry out a trial reintroduction of six Eurasian lynx in the Kielder Forest region.
The trust said it is the first time an application has ever been made in the UK for this species or any other apex predator.
Last year, the trust announced plans to explore the possibility of bringing the Eurasian lynx back into the British ecosystem.
It said an international team of experts have spent a year planning the reintroduction, consulting with national bodies, studying potential release sites and consulting with local communities and businesses.
Their findings have now been submitted to Natural England, which is the statutory agency responsible for licensing species reintroductions in England.
The trust said that while any release would take place in England, the lynx may cross the border into Scotland and, as such, Scottish Natural Heritage is being kept fully informed about the application.
If permission is given, four females and two males will be reintroduced in the Kielder Forest region for a five-year period, wearing satellite collars to monitor their movements.
The cats will come from healthy wild populations in Europe and be subject to full veterinary screening.
The trust said the animals would be intently studied and the information gathered would be used to decide whether a full reintroduction can be carried out with more individuals across a wider area.
The chief scientific adviser on the project, Dr Paul O'Donoghue, said: "Tens of thousands of man-hours of work by a huge team of people have gone into consultations shaping this final application which marks a significant milestone in the history of UK conservation - potentially the first return of an extinct predator, which could prove to be a really keystone species for our ecosystem."
Dr O'Donoghue said the reintroduction of the lynx could bring economic benefits to the Kielder region, suggesting it could be known as "the kingdom of the lynx", a unique eco-tourism destination in the middle of Britain.
He said his team has had positive feedback from local businesses with the Angler's Arms pub, in Kielder Village, already sporting a life-size replica lynx above the bar.
He said: "We've now reached a point where we feel every piece of research has been done, every concern that can be raised has been raised, and the only way to move truly forward is with an intensively monitored trial reintroduction of a small number of cats. That can tell us exactly how suitable the lynx would be for a larger reintroduction."