CUMBRIAN sheep farmers have warned of serious consequences for their flocks amid new proposals to reintroduce wild lynx into the county and neighbouring Northumberland.

Sheep watchdog, the National Sheep Association (NSA), said the reintroduction of the wildcat would cause "stress" and "anxiety" for farmers.

They claim that once again it would appear there are plans to prepare for a licence application to release the predator species into the county's landscape.

The NSA says it stands by the position it formed around the last application in 2018 by Lynx Trust UK - an application that was rejected by the then Secretary of State.

NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker comments: “There must be practical and science-based evidence and reasoning behind any potential reintroductions of risk species and NSA would advocate for a case-by-case approach to ensure there is a robust and clear strategy to ensure unintended consequences are avoided. As an organisation we will engage constructively with this conversation, on the understanding that it will inform whether a formal consultation should proceed in advance of any licence application.

“As sheep farmers we will be far more directly affected than most and we have a duty and a right to express our views. The potential impact is wide and far reaching, including the stress placed on farmers knowing that an apex predator is in the vicinity – we know the effect that domestic dogs attacking sheep has on farmer anxiety levels and the repulsion these attacks are met with by the public. Why it would be OK for a sheep to be attacked by a lynx instead is irrational..”

The Missing Lynx Project, a partnership between Northumberland Wildlife Trust, The Lifescape Project and The Wildlife Trusts are supporting the release of lynx into the country, and are running exhibitions in Cumbria at Stapleton until tomorrow (Sat) when it will move onto Newcastleton on Wednesday, June 12. The idea is to give communities the opportunity to find out more and share their views on bringing back the species that became extinct in Britain in medieval times.