Reintroducing Top Predators

could wolves be back in the UK soon?

Reintroducing Large Carnivores to the UK

Debate in conservation circles has raged in recent years about the pros and cons of reintroducing large predators back into the wilder areas of the UK. Wolves, Brown Bears and Lynx are all possible candidates for reintroduction programmes, particularly in the wilds of northern Scotland where there is little sustainable land agriculture, a lack of tourist income and a population of deer that is out of control, despite the best efforts of gamekeepers.

The drawbacks of having large predators prowling hills and forests of Britain once again are obvious, even if the perceived threat of such animals to humans is far greater than the actual danger posed. Still, even if the “Little Red Riding Hood” myth is not necessarily borne out by the true experiences of other European countries with substantial predator populations, there is no doubt that a number of lambs and other livestock would be taken each year. Despite a likely system of compensation being put in place to deal with the financial loses, farmers argue that this would not mitigate against the emotional suffering caused by such attacks. Although attempts have been made to fence off areas of land for animal enclosures in the Highlands, this has met with ramblers who wish to protect their right to roam. Some conservationists also argue that large predators have been extinct in the UK for a long time (the Wolf, the last to go, was hunted to extinction in 1769) and that any reintroduction could wreak havoc on the ecosystems from which they have been absent for so long.

I think at this point it’s time to nail my colours to the mast. I am, and have been for a long time, very much in favour of the reintroduction of predators selectively to the UK and see far more reasons for their return than not bringing them back.

Firstly, is the need for a natural control on deer numbers to be introduced; wolves and lynx would be the natural predators for such animals which currently have none. Millions of pounds are spend on trying (and failing) to keep deer numbers in check with rifles each year. The deer population is in plague proportions and prevents succession and the re-growth of natural forests, particularly in Scotland.

Large predators would also provide a healthy tourist economy to become established in areas which currently have no other sustainable industries. Small, economically deprived communities could benefit substantially from increased visitor numbers.

Last and perhaps most poignant is the moral obligation which I feel we owe to replacing populations of such animals that we once wiped out. This has lead the UK to reintroduce creatures such as the Sea Eagle, Red Kites, Beavers and Bustards in recent years and the Wolf, Lynx and Bear would seem to be the natural progression of this trend.

However I’m not holding my breath for the reintroductions to be made anytime soon. The Beaver, reintroduced the Knapdale Forest in Scotland last year, has taken the effort of conservationists over a twenty year period. Despite this I’m hopeful that before I leave this world, I’m able to be walking in the British wilderness and hear a wolf howl.

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Comments 8 comments

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 5 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

That wolf above looks so majestic! I've never seen a real wolf...I wonder! :)

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Was it just me or did I hear a wolf howl? ;) Be sure to be ahead of the pack. Read and vote!


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC

Interesting hub superwags-you sure look like a baboon. I was stalked by a wolf pack once in Northern B.C. It was scary. But they may have as much right to be here on earth and the rest of us.


superwags profile image

superwags 5 years ago from UK Author

Yeah, fortunately for me sulawesi macaques were reintroduced a few year back. I can imagine it was a pretty primeval kind of scary!


Golfgal profile image

Golfgal 5 years ago from McKinney, Texas

Your article is very informative. I believe human must allow enough open land for animals to remain in natural habitat. We cannot take the land and create civilization in areas that need to remain terrain. The wolves, bear, deer etc need large wilderness to survive without coming into the areas that humans dwell. When we enter the wild...we do so on nature's terms, it should be respected and cherished. Once it is gone, it will be gone forever.


superwags profile image

superwags 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Golfgal. I too believe that we as humans have a moral responsibility to improve our natural environment and work to increase biodiversity.

Apart from that though, reintroducing these top predators would actually probably make good financial sense too. It'll probably be this that ultimately wins over the powers that be. Money talks louder than moral obligations in this situation!


elayne001 profile image

elayne001 5 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Spooky...thinking about a wolf watching me and drooling. Kind of like Little Red Riding Hood. I think it is great to give them a chance, but far away from humans for their sakes. Congrats on the nomination.


superwags profile image

superwags 5 years ago from UK Author

Thanks Elayne. I think Little Red Riding Hood has already done a bit too much damage to the Wolf's plight! In Europe it's virtually unheard of for wolves to attack humans.

Still even as someone who advocates their return, I wouldn't fancy being trailed by a pack of them on a dark night!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

That wolf is really frightening,thanks for this piece of work.

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