THE reintroduction of wolves to the Scottish countryside would bring major economic benefits with the public having little to fear, one of the best known faces on wildlife television has claimed.

Springwatch host Chris Packham said humans had to learn to live with the predators, with only a few deaths in the US, where they were reintroduced almost 30 years ago.

Packham also said the predator would help reduce the continually rising roe deer population in Scotland.

He joins a growing chorus of voices wanting the wolf brought back to Britain after an absence of over 250 years.

Flat-pack millionaire and Scottish landowner, Paul Lister, announced ambitious plans to bring the wolf back to the Highlands within the next few years in 2013.

Last year the John Muir Trust (JMT) said there was "no ecological reason" why wolves could not be reintroduced to Scotland and that resistance to it was based on centuries of demonisation.

But the body which represents Scotland's land owners said there would likely be resistance amongst its members and farmers to any formal reintroduction bid and instead called for further protection endangered species.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Packham said that while lynx had been brought back to Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, France and Spain, "there have been no authenticated accounts of them attacking people".

He added: "Given that we have 350,000 roe deer in Scotland, reintroducing a predator to have an impact on that population would be good," he added.

"Wolves live in Portugal, Spain, Italy and in Sweden too. There have been only two fatalities since the year 2000, both in the US, and certainly none in Europe.

"What we would like to move towards is a more tolerant society that understands the fact that to have a sustainable working landscape we need large predators.

"We have lived without them in the UK for such a long time that people are very resistant to the idea of them coming back, which is a shame because we do know better and we do need them, and it would be tremendously exciting."

He added: "Think of the eagles that we have put back into Scotland.

"The eco-touristic value of those birds runs into millions of pounds per bird. That's how much they are worth to the local economy.

"If we did have wolves, which would have to be in Scotland, and lynx then lots of people would pay to go to see them and they would be a great asset."

Reintroducing the wolf to the Scottish Highlands was first proposed in the late 1960s, with the idea gaining wider publicity and support following schemes to bring back the red wolf to the south-eastern US in 1989, and the grey wolf to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.

The animals had been present in Scotland from roughly 50,000 years ago until the middle of the 18th century.

Wolf bones have been found, together with those of reindeer, northern lynx, brown bear and arctic fox, at the Inchnadamph National Nature Reserve in Sutherland, and on Crossflat at Muirkirk in Ayrshire.

They were driven to extinction by persecution and hunting.

Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land and Estates, said: "Despite being much-talked about, no official proposal has been presented for the reintroduction of wolves but if it did, there are likely to be a considerable number of issues for farmers and land managers.

"We are sceptical that many in rural Scotland would welcome this."