Everything You Need To Know About The Lynx
1. What it is: The lynx is a medium-sized wildcat. They are solitary creatures who live in remote forests - currently they are found in parts of North America, Europe, and Asia. Lynx can live over 20 years in captivity but usually just reach their teens in the wild. They are carnivorous animals. Canada lynx live on a diet of mice, squirrels, birds, and hare whilst Eurasian lynx feed on larger prey such as deer. They are excellent hunters as they have very good hearing and eyesight. They have incredibly beautiful fur which means they have often been the target of hunters.
2. Why they were extinct in the UK: It is believed that the lynx disappeared from the UK between 500 and 700 AD. Most theories believe that they were driven to extinction by a mixture of deforestation and hunting for fur and sport. As well as the fact they have beautiful fur, some believe that lynx may have been hunted to stop them from attacking livestock such as sheep.
3. Bringing them back to the UK: The Lynx UK Trust has been pushing to reintroduce lynx into the British wild since 2014. They argue that lynx are native to the UK and would still be living here if it wasn't for human interference. Most importantly, the disappearance of lynx in Britain has led to an overpopulation of deer which is damaging to forests.
4. The behaviour of lynx: Lynx are classed as 'super-predators' which may make them sound a little scary but your pet cat is also classed as a super-predator. This just means that they are capable of tackling prey up to and beyond their own weight single-handedly. Lynx are documented as having taken down deer up to three times their size.
However, throughout recorded history no human has ever been attacked by a wild lynx. Lynx avoid humans as much as possible and would never choose to attack us if they were to come across us. They are also very unlikely to pose any risk to domestic animals like cats and dogs.
5. The reintroduction of the lynx: The proposal is to release six lynx, two males and four females, into the Kielder forest in Northumberland. This forest was chosen because it has a large deer population, ample forest area and no major roads. If the trial is approved, these lynx will be brought from Sweden, where the population is thriving. They would all be fitted with GPS collars so that researchers can keep track of them at all times. They will be heavily studied to see how they behave and whether they breed.
Even if lynx are successfully reintroduced to Britain, it is highly unlikely that you will ever come across one. Lynx stick to forests, avoiding humans at all costs. They are also nocturnal creatures and seeing a lynx in the wild would be a truly rare and special experience.