A CAPTIVE Eurasian lynx, exactly the same species proposed by Lynx UK Trust to be released into the wild, is suspected of killing seven sheep

after escaping from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, Aberystwyth in Wales 10 days ago.

The National Sheep Association (NSA) has said it understands the cause of death was determined by post-mortem conducted by Welsh Government Officials, which was confirmed as a single bite to the neck and subsequent internal bleeding. NSA understands two sheep were partly eaten, while the remaining five appeared to have been killed purely out of instinct, just as a domestic cat might do with prey such as mice.

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The escaped lynx, a one-year-old juvenile named Lilleth, remains at large.

Phil Stocker, NSA chief executive, said: “There cannot be a clearer warning of the damage lynx will do if they are released into the wild.

"And at a time when Lynx UK Trust’s application to release lynx into Kielder Forest, Northumberland is under review from Natural England, it could not be more timely.

“Lynx UK Trust continues to assure us that lynx, on average, will take just 0.4 sheep annually. A fact which is simply unbelievable.

"This incident also backs up what we are hearing from a number of sheep farmers in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe who tell us of high losses they’ve experienced from individual lynx that develop the behavioural characteristic of an opportunistic hunter.”

Mr Stocker added: “The risk lynx pose to sheep, and the subsequent anxiety which would be suffered by sheep farmers if they were released is clear, but NSA’s concerns reach far wider than that.

"Through their normal work, sheep farmers are continually supporting wildlife and grassland ecology and this valuable activity would be undermined if a lynx release were to go ahead.”

NSA has received assurances from Natural England that it will work closely with Scottish Government in considering Lynx UK Trust’s application, but it feels this level of collaboration should go even further.

Mr Stocker concluded: “The fact this attack has happened in Wales raises questions around the land mass similarity between that in the proposed release site of Kielder Forest and the area of Wales this incident took place.

“If the release goes ahead and the population expands in the way it is intended, the species could find its way into Wales years into the future without any consultation taking place there.

"For that reason, NSA believes approval should be sought from the relevant bodies in England, Scotland and Wales before any decision is reached.”