independence – self-determination – autonomy

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

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Photographs by www.jamesmorgan.co.uk

Adam Weymouth spent a month walking 200 miles across Scotland, from the Alladale estate, where Paul Lister hopes to reintroduce wolves, to Killiecrankie, one of the many places where it is claimed the last wolf in Britain was killed. On the way he spoke to gamekeepers, shepherds, biologists and hikers about how they would feel if they were once again living alongside this most notorious of animals.

In 1743, so the story goes, a man named MacQueen killed the last wolf in Britain. The wolf was huge and black and had been eating local children. MacQueen was a crofter, built like a hero, who took it upon himself to decapitate the beast.

“Our family’s been here for generations and the story’s been passed down,” said David MacQueen, as we sat in his farmhouse kitchen a stone’s throw from where it happened. “I’ve no reason to disbelieve it.” With six hundred head of sheep, he does not appear dissatisfied with the status quo that his ancestor put in place. But centuries later there is talk of rewilding, and what once seemed to be extinction could be no more than hiatus.

There are many such tales in Scotland. Often they are close enough in time and place to pivotal moments in history – MacQueen’s is just three years and several miles from the Battle of Culloden – to ponder whether significant moments in the crushing of the clans and last wolf myths have a tendency to get conflated. Its extirpation as an analogy for the English ‘civilising’ of the Highlands, whilst at the same time honouring the heroism of the last of the clan chieftains.

Certainly the Clearances were helped by the wolf’s eradication: vast flocks of sheep with few shepherds to tend them was feasible only because they no longer had predators. And certainly there has always been a tendency to speak of the wolf and the native in one breath. A Massachusetts law of 1638: “Whoever shall [within the town] shoot off a gun on any unnecessary occasion, or at any game except an Indian or a wolf, shall forfeit 5 shillings for every shot.” (Lopez, 1978: 170). But now, for some that still work the land, talk of the wolf’s reintroduction smacks of an attempt to finish off what the Clearances put in motion.

The wolf topped a recent Countryfile poll as the animal most favoured for a reintroduction, and many of the hikers, mountain bikers and climbers that I met as I walked across the country were supportive of the idea. Yet I found the farmers and gamekeepers who would be forced to work alongside them exasperated by those pushing for the animal’s return. “They’ve all got their woolly hat and their beard,” said Allan, a gamekeeper on an estate outside Tomatin, “and they’ve all been to college and they’re all taught the same thing. That it’d be better if man didn’t exist on this planet. That we’ve got an adverse effect, we’re not part of the ecosystem, that we shouldn’t interfere with anything. But I think we’ve as much right to this place as anybody else. It’s going to cost some people millions. And it’s not going to cost the people who think it’s a good idea a fucking penny.”

Paul Lister, owner of the Alladale Estate, is heir to the MFI fortune. His father wasn’t only instrumental in funding the purchase of Alladale, he told me, but inspired it as well. “About 13, 14 years ago my Dad got very ill and I spent 10 weeks with him in intensive care. I had an epiphany after that. I wanted to set up a foundation. I stopped working and bought a highland estate that I could start to restore.” That restoration has come in many forms. 800,000 trees have been planted, and they are rewetting the peatlands, returning them to the functioning carbon sinks that they once were. “But all that’s kind of standard,” he said. “I think we should be doing something a little bit more interesting.” They have brought red squirrels back to the area. They trialled wild boar for a while, but the land ended up looking like a maniac had got at it with a Rotavator. Then they tried moose, but they too struggled to fit in in a landscape largely deforested and ate the few trees that were left. “They’ve come and gone,” he said. “That’s alright. But it’s carnivores that are needed to manage deer numbers. Trees aren’t out of control in Scotland. Deer are. We’ll show people animals up here when the wolves and bears come back.”

When Paul first announced in 2007 that he intended to bring wolves back to Alladale he generated the sort of media furore that most campaigns can only dream of. It has scarcely abated since. There was a six part BBC documentary. There were hysterical headlines. They called him the wolf man, and howling mad. But come 2015 and wolves, thanks to a combination of logistics and red-tape, are still not back at Alladale.

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Photographs by www.jamesmorgan.co.uk

“I honestly don’t believe in reintroductions,” he said, meaning the release of an extirpated, or locally extinct, species back into the wild. “It’s going to take too long. And there’s going to be too much bickering, and debating and debating and more debating. I think that what I’m proposing is pretty self evident. And I think it doesn’t need much debating. It’s going to create a huge attraction.”

Not everyone agrees. A controlled experiment could be a palatable way of exploring the consequences of a wider reintroduction, but in a country increasingly vocal about the need for land reform, it is hard for many to see beyond the fence to the wider ecological benefits. “There’s a lot of history in the Highlands of people thinking they’ve got private kingdoms that they can do with as they like,” said Helen Todd of the Ramblers. The fence would infringe upon the hard-fought for Right to Roam, and Todd is concerned by the precedent it could set. “It would be really dangerous. The idea that you can fence off your entire estate, get a few wolves in there, and you’ve cracked it, you’ve stopped people from walking on huge tracts of land. Private interests, yet again, trump over public right.”

Lister believes that nature and wildlife take precedence. “We’ve done enough to the landscape over the last millennia to want to be able to put something back,” he said. Yet for Robert Gibson, local MSP, it is people that are “the most endangered species of all” in his constituency, and it is reform, not rewilding, that will save them. Todd agrees. “People are part of the landscape too,” she said. “I’m not sure what model we’d use to bring people back, but certainly you can’t have sustainable development if you don’t take account of people as well.”

But maybe wolves could play a part. A study on the Isle of Mull shows that the colonisation of the sea eagle has brought £5 million a year to the island, and supports 110 jobs (Monbiot, 2013: 102). In Sutherland, where Alladale is situated, three-quarters of the land is in the hands of 81 families and just one person is employed for every seven square kilometres (2013: 102). Wolves would create jobs for game wardens and researchers and in catering for the tourists that came to see them. As deer numbers declined the forests would return, along with the activities and jobs that woodland could support. In Europe, where wolf numbers have quadrupled since the 1970s, farmers are learning to live alongside them, and finding secondary incomes offering tours and accommodation. Such a working, breathing, inhabited landscape would strengthen the case for reformation of the land.

Many of those that resist rewilding hear within the word a suggestion that the wild and the human cannot cohabit, and that in living on the land they are taking up space in the city folk’s longed for return to a nostalgic, Edenic past. Maybe a different term is needed. The newly returned beavers I saw living on the River Tay were not inhabiting a wilderness by anyone’s definition of the word. They were splashing about at the end of some fields, a ten minute walk from a twenty-four hour Tesco. Wolves have recently been sighted in both Belgium and the Netherlands, countries with far higher population densities than the Highlands.

In Europe and North America, the wolf’s return is working where those that live on the land feel that they are being listened to; where they are not, they are being shot. In Scotland, the Cairngorms Wildcat Project has in large part been a success thanks to the time taken to build a relationship with local gamekeepers. If similar relationships can be built this time around with those that work the land then maybe, one day, both wolves and people could come back to the Highlands.

Adam Weymouth is a freelance writer, whose work has appeared in many publications, including The Guardian, The Atlantic and Lacuna. He lives on a boat on the River Lea.
www.adamweymouth.com
@adamweymouth

Lopez, B. (1978) Of Wolves and Men, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Monbiot, G. (2013) Feral. London: Allen Lane.

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24 Comments

  • Jim Bennett 4 months ago

    Fascinating stuff. Great article.

    Reply
  • Crubag 4 months ago

    The Scottish Government has still to take a decision on beaver – SNH reoorted last summer.

    There’s a feeling they’ve been ducking the issue as a decision will inevitably displease one group.

    Reply
  • Aileen 4 months ago

    “Adam Weymouth … lives on a boat on the River Lea.” So not much risk of being savaged by a wolf there then. What a surprise.
    This article is full of muddled thinking, such as linking the absence of wolves with the clearances, is if there were a causal connection. It wasn’t the lack of wolves that caused the clearances but a mixture of greed and the kind of right-wing political economics which regards people in the here-and-now as expendable in the pursuit of some fabled future of plenty. (Sound familiar, anyone?)
    As for the rose-tinted view of other re-introductions these omit one small factor: beevers do not, so far as I’m aware, ever attempt to eat people, and sea eagles, though as awe-inspiring site when seen from your bathroom or bus window (we live in Assynt, West Sutherland) strike only awe, not fear: I’m not keen on seeing a wolf in my garden, however ecologically appealing that idea might be to those to whom this is unlikely ever to happen.
    As for the seven people per square mile employment rate, that is deliberately disingenuous. While unemployment is an issue in these airts that figure mostly reflects the fact that there aren’t that many folk round here to do jobs in the first place. Yes it would be great to see more jobs to stop the generations-long drift of young people to the cities, but what is needed is the kind of high-quality, high-paid jobs they go there to get, not more ‘outdoor servant’ posts, taking tickets admitting gawpers to a sort of Highkand Dusney Park of fanciful dream notions. That kind of job servicing the tourist industry on a highly-seasonal basis is already in high supply, so much so that ‘Kiwis’ and other young people doing the modern equivalent are a necessary and welcome addiction to the local labour force in many areas. Persuade me that these mythical jobs that will be magicked up by the wolves will not only exist but be of the calibre needed to keep our talented youngsters at home and I might almost be persuaded. Almost.
    Then there’s the issue of access.
    Either these wolves will be roaming the hills, hungry for less demanding prey than deer — and my neighbour’s’ sheep, not to say sheepdogs (and my cat) will fit that bill of fare nicely; they might even grab the odd haunch from beneath the gaudy anorak of one of those ecologically-minded visitors who love the idea of seeing wildlife, though maybe not that close — or they will be shut up ‘safely’ behind a wire fence. Which rather begs the question of why, if they’re so damn save they need to be shut up. (Why am I reminded of the long-ago banner protesting against more nuclear installations in Scotland which similarly asked, “If it’s so damn safe, why don’t they build it in London? Surely there were once wolves in Epping Forest, even Hampstead Heath? Maybe even along the banks of the Thames at Westminster? Now there’s a thought!)
    I notice how Mr Weymouth — is he a Mr by the way? I seem to notice that Weymouth is a family name of those who run the largest safari park in the UK, though maybe ‘Adam’ is too demotic a name for that rich and influential family, in which case I apologise for any implied slur on Adam’s own family — how Mr Weymouth slides easily over the difference between more wolves appearing in continental European countries, where there are land bridges to areas such as Russia and others where they have never been eradicated, and the deliberate ‘re-introduction’ of a species now utterly foreign to both the nature of the land, and its uses.
    But suppose they are ‘only’ introduced ‘safely’ behind wire fences. Quite how the owner of such a large estate plans to protect those fences 24/7/365 is not clear to me, even if he could find the armies of low-paid employees or import enough to make this possible, how is he proposing to pay for these fences? Could it possibly be by charging admission?
    But let’s take those two issues, safety and ownership, one by one.
    Firstly, I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering how — and why — he proposes to fence off a large estate when most estate owners plead poverty as the reason why they can’t possibly be expected to fence off even those parts of their estates that run continuously with public roads in order to prevent the damage, injury (resulting in days lost at work) and even deaths caused by deer leaping in front of moving vehicles? (Don’t you just love that deer are wild, so not the property of the estate owners’ or their responsibility but it’s theft if you shoot one, or even heave one in the back of your car once it’s smashed in your bonnet?)
    So how come this guy can suddenly talk about fencing in the whole of his ‘back yard’? Easy enough to guess the answer. And once you do the whole project takes on the look of a commercial proposition, not the sort of heart-warming, only for the ecology, idea it’s presented as.
    But supposing he could fence it all in, then two further questions arise. As a suggested before, the terrain and sheer size of any (normal) Highland estate make the possibility of policing every yard of it, for every hour of every day a remote one, if you’ll excuse the pun. How can we who live in the sorts of areas being proposed (usually from afar, as here) for this experiment feel at all sanguine given the clear possibility of wind damage to fencing, to say nothing of deliberate sabotage? And how long before the ‘occasional’ escape into the wild would it be before this resulted in a few breeding pairs establishing themselves? And how long after that before deliberate re-introduction into the wild became unnecessary? And how long after that might our tourist industry take a hit, as families who don’t include among their number the ecology-before-people brigade decide that maybe Wales has mountains too, but at least the kids won’t get bitten by a wolf if they wander off a bit?
    And whether or not wolves are prone to attacking humans is beyond the point: people believe they are (and if past tales be true not entirely without good reason.) Even the fear of spotting a wolf nearby could be enough to scare people from the hills in large enough numbers to have an impact on those in the area for whom tourism is a job and a livelihood, not a pastime.
    But then, walking the wild hills might become impossible in any case once that fragile wall of wire is built around this estate, and maybe many others to follow. Let that happen and any notion of a right to roam becomes nonsense. You’ll only have the right to roam within the estate boundaries on payment of an admission fee, something that flies in the face not just of recent enhanced legislation but the very heart of Scottish culture and deep belief about land ownership.
    As a nation we’ve never taken to the idea, prevalent since the Normans invaded England and their feudal notions began to infiltrate even across the border, that the land belongs to single individuals or families with power but no responsibility other than that of ownership. Under the old clan system this would have seemed nonsense. So much so that, a bit like those (probably apocryphal) Native Americans who ‘sold’ what to them was beyond both sale and ownership, the land around them for a few beads and trinkets. They thought they had the last laugh. Similarly, I suspect, the clans regarded the increasing sense of feudal ownership of lands by their Chiefs as unproblematic until the full consequences slowly became clear. By then it was too late, for both types of indigenous peoples. But somewhere in the Scottish psyche there has always been a sense that the land belongs to everyone, or rather to no-one. This is why we never developed a law of traspass of the kind England has. At some level, it never seemed to us to be necessary. Stop someone damaging property, yes. Prevent people just occupying any place they feel like, okay. But just walking about the place? Where’s the harm in that?
    But now we have a landowner, not born in this culture, unaccustomed to living within it, without any ties other than legal ownership, and without any obvious sense of how his views are seen by most of the indigenous population, attempting — crying high moral scruples of the ‘winner takes all’ code word of the 21st century: ecology — not just to turn back the recent direction of land reform, but to laugh at it.
    We need to be a lot more afraid of the smoke and mirrors of this attempt to bamboozle us than the Native Americans were of the mirrors they took in payment for the land they’d previously enjoyed the freedom to roam over at will, and which they’d managed to care for perfectly well for aeons, without any ecological advisors either.
    Certainly we have been guilty of allowing the eco balance to get slightly out of whack in the Highlands in recent years in terms of deer numbers. Nobody who lives here and sees them in places and numbers that would have astonished our grandfathers, and often currently frighted folk who can’t even walk a village street or so much as go into their own garden without risking facing off with a scary stag. But — nice wee point — at least one major cause of that is the fencing of of forest areas, again to protect the financial interests landowners, and even investors who’ve never so much as laid eyes n the place.
    The answer to deer numbers is not more fences, other than those needed to prevent them causing havoc to themselves and others on our roads, but fewer. This landowner wants more forests. What’s to stop him planting them? He wants fewer deer? What’s to prevent him culling them? (Except maybe the misplaced squeamishness of folk who’ll eat battery-chicken or intensively-reared pork in their sandwiches on their way up here to impose their doctrine of ‘ecology before people’.)
    The Highlands of Scotland have both jaw-dropping scenery and problems with providing high-quality jobs. This proposal seems to risk preventing full access to the former while doing nothing to help solve the latter. That may be ecology, but it certainly isn’t sustainability, which is what we really need, not half-baked ideas imposing more problems from afar, like this one,

    Reply
    • Wul 4 months ago

      “…not much risk of being savaged by a wolf there then. ”

      Not much chance of being savaged by a wolf anywhere in the world. They only kill 10 people/year.
      Humans kill 47,500 times more people than wolves.

      https://www.gatesnotes.com/~/media/Images/Articles/Health/Most-Lethal-Animal-Mosquito-Week/BiggestKillers_final_v8_no-logo.ashx

      Reply
      • Jim_McIntyre 4 months ago

        I too thought wolves were years before the clearances. I still admire the author’s commitment to bringing back wolves. I suspect older people in the Highlands might be adverse to it, but would have thought the big land owners would like to go hunting for wolves.

        There is a boar population in England that was basically put there on purpose by people. One idea for environmentalists would be to do something similar with the wolf. Once they are there, it is much harder to get rid of them.

        Reply
    • Gordon McShean 4 months ago

      What is Mr Trump’s view about saving the best of Scotland’s natural assets by fencing? (I understand his Scottish golfing enterprises are being seriously reviewed now that there can be no assurances given to ensure the establishment of enclosures designed to protect American golfing tourists from predatory natives.) Heaven help us if he becomes the American President – one would suppose that fencing off the Highlands would be a mere bagatelle when compared with his plans for the Mexican border. Does he consider that wolves are more dangerous than Mexicans?

      Reply
  • Ian 4 months ago

    Mr Lister may have good intentions but think mink! Especially mink who escape!

    Reply
  • Eachann 4 months ago

    I don’t think it was a case of huge flocks of sheep and few shepherds, flocks then were small and shepherds multiplied, as demand increased for wool, to eventually occupy hill land which was formerly only used as Summer shielings, a very sociable way of life. The new shepherds lived in an isolation unknown to the native people. A second clearance occurred with the invention of refrigerated ships on the Clyde and the importing of sheepmeat from NZ & Oz, sheep were ne longer viable and were taken off the hills, the shepherds being replaced by fewer keepers who catered for the demand for deer-stalking. Ironically the imports were largely produced by the descendants of folk who were cleared from the glens to make way for sheep in the first place.

    Reply
    • C Rober 4 months ago

      Forgot the weavers , industrialization made wool and garment cheaper , taking income away from them , yet the mill owners were and still are protrayed as their benefactors for it.

      Reply
  • Crubag 4 months ago

    A lot of the wolf-based thinking comes from columnist George Monbiot. He was behind the setting up of a new charity, Rewilding Britain, last year, in Clapham Road.

    Interestingly it is the London end of the operation that are pushing the idea of species reintroduction. The Scottish director, who has worked with crofters, is apparently not so keen on wolves and bears.

    Reply
  • Alan M Johnston 4 months ago

    I’ve had a couple of run ins with the Rewilding Britain mob. They seem to equate Britain in this case with Scotland. All the articles I’ve read on rewilding seem to be focussed on Scotland and when you ask “why not try it out on England first” the usual answer is along the lines of “England is too full”. My country is not a colony or a playground. Rewild your own country first and we’ll evaluate the results. One land owner accused me of not understanding the countryside. Given they spent 300 years clearing us off the land that’s perhaps not surprising. Ach well, we’ll not be long getting the hang of “understanding” the countryside. The beaver “reintroduction” in Argyll was no such thing. We were never presented with ANY evidence that beavers were ever present in that part of Argyll. The main thing needed for Scotland and especially the highlands and islands is people, lots and lots of people in all areas. Finally, to all the colonialists who wish to tell me they know best what my country needs I would ask only this, think how you would feel if the French or Irish were demanding that you used your land as they demanded, and after you have reflected for a moment take your colonialist attitude and fuck off.

    Reply
    • C Rober 4 months ago

      HAHA , but I bet you would like to see reforestation of native woodland though , instead of hecatres of Canadian pine?

      There is a couple of groups that these types have helped to protect some of the micro forests hidden away from mans land clearing that they have helped fund , or to get funding.

      But I get what your saying.

      Reply
  • john young 4 months ago

    It,s always about “moneh” it will cost some millions? and the instigators not a penny? they will nknow all about their millions when the next financial catastrophe impacts and not too far off apparently,we never ever learn,money solves all.

    Reply
  • Dougie Strang 4 months ago

    I’m always surprised at the anger generated when anyone suggests that the land we live on might not just be for the use of humans, or that we might have any moral obligation to even consider trying to reintroduce species that we exterminated.

    Sadly, it’s that human-centric worldview that is responsible for the ongoing destruction of the planet. Such is ‘progress’.

    Reply
  • Coul Porter 4 months ago

    I live in an area where the destruction caused by the pine marten population is becoming an issue. I would be up for removing their protected status.
    Tell you what, run a pilot scheme in S.E. England.

    Reply
    • Tam 4 months ago

      What ‘destruction’ are you talking about ? Do tell. Are they eating sheep, babies, honest ‘countryfolk’ – what ?

      Reply
      • Coul Porter 4 months ago

        Poultry can be an important part of the crofting economy. A very important part in instances where that economy is close to subsistence. Wanton killing (ie not for food) may be recreation for some, but can have a significant impact on others. The pine marten, like the mink, kills for sport. One has been feted, the other culled. Even after the near-complete extermination of the latter, we do not have successful populations of ground-nesting birds like snipe and curlew.

        Just as ‘Big Tree Country’ has become beaver dam country, I have no confidence in the ability of the ersatz frontiersmen to properly monitor any wolf population they care to introduce.

        However, to paraphrase Percy Shelley ‘Find me a skylark and then we’ll talk’

        Reply
  • John Mooney 4 months ago

    Why not introduce the wolves to the Yorkshire moors or the “Blessed” Lake district! “WHAT”! How dare I suggest such a daft idea!IN other word ,Foxtrot Oscar to this stupid idea with regard to my country!

    Reply
  • Murd MacLeay 4 months ago

    I understand people’s hesitation, however I think this can be overcome by establishing a large scale proof of concept that works and education.

    Shooting of animals for sport can’t go on forever! Peoples blood lust should be quenched by video games or as has happened in the developing world – tourism – the click of a camera rather than shooting the likes of Cecil with a 12 bore or cross bow.

    In the Highlands and Lowlands there are shooting estates, the wealthy get their rocks off bagging grouse or deer. Why not open these areas up to everyone and engage their interest by re-introducing fauna and flora that was once prevalent?

    Normal people would flock to the countryside and locals would find additional opportunity and jobs.

    Time to use our country for everyone’s benefit, not just the privileged few and those the privileged few control!

    Reply
    • Crubag 4 months ago

      In mainland Europe these animals are incredibly elusive, so I don’t think there would be a tourist boom. How many residents have seen a wildcat in the wild, and how many tourists come to see them?

      But you can see them all, wolves, bears, lynx and wildcats, at the Scottish Deer Centre in Fife if tourists want to.

      The most reliable wildlife performers are the dolphins in the Moray Firth but
      they might affected by the proposed ship to ship oil transfers being mooted.

      Reply
  • C Rober 4 months ago

    I have lived in countries in Europe , in areas of outstanding beauty , with sheep , goats , deer , wild bore , snakes , scorpions , lynx , mink , fowl , introduced mongoose , huge predator birds , and all that are protected alrady , with some only until hunting season and shot by drunk hunters .

    The same drunk hunters clubs are also the wardens , aiding all the species to live , livestock protection , and at the same time as hunting for food as well as sport.

    While I dont agree with them hunting in lined beats , just like on Scots moors , and would like to see proper hunting including bow and nightime introduced at my local club.

    They are the first line of conservation , including forestry and reforestation after fire , on nationalized protected areas , whatever word for crofting land that they use , and when fire is a worry then left free from their jobs , like RNLI lifeboat operators , but to protect their club , local community homes and land , and national forest as unpaid firefighters. To say they are both loved and hated in as much amounts would be an understatement , loved locally , hated by the vegan leftist coucous brigade who think of countryside as a drive , not a lifestyle.

    The countries are not too dissimilar to Scotland , other than actually have a summer , but importantly guns are legal , if only for hunting , and through testing and licencing. Gun murders arent absent , but are far less than in Scotland per year , and thats without even considering the per capita allowance for working out deaths per 100,000 that is the standard benchmark.

    One of them with perhaps a population of a maximum of 3 times that of Scotland , the problem animals are controlled , by hunting but not for the privileged elite. Seasonal hunting for specific animals , licencing is yearly , testing for species identification and importantly reserves is paramount , all land is identified that is privately owned by signs as to whether the owner allows hunting on it.

    So far this has worked , and for a long time , but other introduced non native species are threatening the ecosystem , including disease in trees , insects , and more aggressive species of snakes. This is where I hope some new blood will come in , as the average these days seems to be 60 plus , with new heads comes new thinking , new ways to eradicate invasive and disease prevention that is approaching indemic to forestry.

    What worries me about the Reintroduction to Scotland is management , much as others have mentioned , is it to be as bad as that of deer , or simply for the sport of the wealthy?

    Can Scotland send some Hollyrood people off to our cousins in Europe and see how they operate , without handouts to Gentry , special tax breaks etc , and of course whether a more open firearm policy for Hunting Clubs , where they are also the rangers of national parkland , like some wildlife territorial army , could be introduced and before the wolf itself?

    Since Dunblane the gun holders have dropped , air weapons last I heard were to be banned , so what is the crofter and farmer to do to protect his sheep , it is a valid question? For the Landlords siting on 45 percent of Scotland I have no simpathy , but crofters and farmers , its a livelihood , if not a food source we are talking about.

    Again as I mention Europe , those worried by wolfs nearly always actually work the land , and know there will be losses to predators , but have not hunted them to extinction. Instead they as rural land owners and workers of it , have proper malloser dog breeds , bred to be part of a flock , to protect it , and are working animals not unlike the horse once was , or sheepdog still is for herding , but importantly are outdoor dogs 24/7 with the breeding for it.

    Wolfs being primary dark predators are also opportunists , not unlike the fox , and even one dog is enough to move them on in the open , dog breeds like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock_guardian_dog

    I suspect these breeds were used and introduced into Scotland as well , as some can be traced back to roman empire , but we bred on the wolf hunter breeds instead , calling them Deerhounds and the like for gentry sports , and long before we removed the last canis lupis for the canis vulpis to be our biggest predator.

    But by weight the biggest carnivore is still the badger in the Uk , which like the wolf of old is being persecuted to protect insufficent modernist farming techiniques , so should we again make legal badger baiting? I am sure the Queen guitarist would have something to say about that , so would the wolf work there then in controlling the badger , I doubt it , they are opportunist after all?

    So what I am saying is basically I am for reintroduction , if we do as our cousins do in Europe , or better it.

    Reply
  • David Allan 4 months ago

    A non starter a daft idea,they were hunted to extinction for a reason. Might I suggest these ecologists with time on their hands focus on the introduction of a species that might thrive on the midgee, depleting wee beastie numbers would do more that anything to aid economic recovery in these remote underpopulated areas.

    Now that would be an initiative worthy of everyone’s support.

    As a keen Hill-Walker the thought of packs of roaming wolves would deter access to many areas ,no more the thought of wild camping activities!

    As for the Deer why am I eating Venison imported from New Zealand now there’s an interesting concept Scottish jobs created by farming DEER!! Oh it’s that land-owner problem again!

    WE can successfully (with scandinavian help) farm and export Salmon what’s the issue with doing the same with DEER.

    Reply
    • tom 4 months ago

      in reply to your comment about the exporting off deer ,i think you will find that this already happens and has done for a great number off years , i sometimes think that to many people come into these debates without first delving into the facts before they make a comment .
      as to the introduction off wolves in the highlands ,who is going to compensate the hill farmer for the loss off livestock ,certainly not the ramblers lairds or activists who are so keen to reintroduce them ,i for one would not mind either way but as i do not rely on an income from sheep in these remote places i for one will leave well alone .

      Reply
  • Eachann 4 months ago

    Rio Tinto may possibly off-load their Highland assets, the loss of the Lochaber Smelter will be a big blow to Fort William and the suppliers but no doubt the power-house will continue to supply the grid. The sale of their estates will be the biggest skelp of ground to come on the market for very many years. Who gets it? is the question. British Aluminium bought this land at bargain-basement prices, they and their successors have had their moneys worth. It should now go to the nation.

    Reply

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