The Big Picture looks at what it might be like if the Eurasian lynx returned to Scotland

A stunning new book published by SCOTLAND: The Big Picture looks at what it might be like if the Eurasian lynx returned to Scotland.

The Lynx and Us – by ecologist Dr David Hetherington, with stunning photography of wild lynx from Laurent Geslin – aims to inform a growing debate about the possibility of reintroducing this charismatic predator to Scotland after an absence of more than 400 years.

Drawing upon evidence from across Europe, the book examines what it would be like to have an apex predator living in our midst once again.

Lynx numbers are on the rise in Europe, through natural colonisation and reintroductions – sparking calls for the species’ return to Britain. Whilst this may be undesirable for some, Hetherington says tangible benefits would include helping to control the damaging effects of deer in commercial woodland, and opportunities to boost Scotland’s appeal for nature-based tourism.

“Reintroducing lynx would be a milestone for British nature conservation. By preying on roe deer, they could play a vital role in maintaining healthy woodlands. But the lynx’s return could bring challenges too, so a respectful dialogue with those who live and work in the countryside is essential before any reintroduction could ever happen,” said David Hetherington.

Evidence suggests that lynx survived in Britain until after the Middle Ages. The Highlands may be where it held out longest, and this is also where Hetherington says a modern-day lynx population could live, given the area’s abundance of forest and woodland deer as prey. His previous research indicates that the Highlands could support a population of at least 400 wild lynx.

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