How would the average person feel if they knew that the largest canine was roaming the wilds of Scotland; one that has fuelled stories of death and horror for years since recorded history?
Some conservationists would like to see the wolf make a return to the British Isles after the last one was killed in the late 1700’s in Scotland.
The European wolf was once an indigenous predator in the UK, having made its way over when Europe was connected to Britain hundreds of years ago. It existed along with bears, lynx, beavers, moose and many other animals that hunters were quick to eradicate.
However, unlike many of the long dead animals of the isles; just a couple of hundred years separates this animal from the modern day….So surely it deserves to still be here, especially if its man’s fault that he is now extinct in the UK?
So what would happen if he came back, should he come back and is it possible for him to survive?
Wildlife presenter & wolf specialist Anneka Svenska joined Good Morning Britain on Friday the 17th of November to discuss just this, alongside a member of the Scottish Farmer’s Union, Andrew Bauer.
Anneka spoke to GreenWorldTV directly and said
“The wolf is feared for the wrong reasons. A wild wolf that has had no human interaction (raising or feeding) is extremely fearful of man and will keep himself well hidden. Attacks are extremely rare and you are more likely to be killed by a red deer hitting your car than even ‘see’ a wolf if they were to be released into Scotland”.
“Firstly, we need to make some huge changes to the landscape and the way we pay farmers, if this is to become a reality. The EU sends taxpayers money to UK farmers called ‘The Single Farm Payment in order to keep their land in ‘Good agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC)’ which means, in layman’s terms, all plants and trees removed. One clause that farmers must obey to be eligible is “Avoiding the encroachment of unwanted vegetation.”…basically no weeds or wild flowers must grow on the land.“
“Farmers are paid £200 – £300 per hectare and so of course they are motivated to farm sheep and plough their fields up for crops, as they will be subsidised for this, but must follow this land stripping rule if they are to qualify…Our land does not stand a chance at this rate. As the uplands of Scotland is too rocky and hilly for arable farming; sheep farming is the obvious choice, as well as grouse moors. Grouse moors are cleared resulting in the loss of many bird and animal species by land owners who make money from sport killing of grouse. Due to the loss of hill top forests, many villages regularly flood and the nutrients are lost from the land. Birds of prey are also illegally poisoned and pest animals snared. No wonder we have lost over 65% of uplands wildlife since the 70’s according to the State of Nature Report”
“So, say for example that farmers are then given grants to ‘rewild’ their land instead of sheep farming, they will be motivated to welcome a return of plants and trees. This in turn will also stop them from worrying about sheep being killed by the odd wolf. The wolf will help the trees thrive by keeping the red deer on the move, so that saplings can regrow and also the deer numbers will drop dramatically. As a keystone predator, the wolf will shape the entire ecosystem and we will see trees start to grow up the side of rivers. This will help rivers to pool and meander, which in turn, will help the newly returned beavers who will have more trees to utilise. Voles will also thrive and other river animals. Birds of prey will feed off deer carcasses left by the wolves, whereas hunters will remove the carcasses to eat or sell themselves. Everything will start to flourish and a once barren Scotland may start to look more forested as in times of old.”
“The forested habitat will allow wolves to stay hidden and content, but if they breed successfully and spread out to further territories; they well could encroach on towns and villages and this is where humans will again become a danger to their existence. Pest wolves will be shot and if too many breed, then the authorities will start a management plan; which like across the USA is incredibly damaging to the social structure of the wolf. Often the alpha wolves are targeted for killing, breaking up packs and creating more ‘lone wolves’. If the wolf cannot be protected, then we cannot do it.”
“I campaign to help protect animals such as foxes, who are tiny in comparison to the wolf. If the government wont protect them, then sadly they could be targeted like wolves have been across Europe by angry farmers and game keepers and as the welfare of the wolf is paramount to me, they cannot return unless they are protected”.