Report shares farmer perspectives on large carnivore reintroductions

Northern Ireland-based researcher and conservationist Dr Jonny Hanson NSch 2023 has published his Nuffield Farming report entitled ‘Large carnivore reintroductions to Britain and Ireland: farmers’ perspectives and management options’, sponsored by the Thomas Henry Foundation.

During his Scholarship, Hanson travelled to Switzerland, the Netherlands, the USA and France, and performed remote interviews with individuals in the UK, Republic of Ireland and Belgium. His primary objectives were to understand farmer perspectives and management tools regarding the reintroduction of large carnivores in the UK and Republic of Ireland, as well as explore examples how coexistence is other parts of the world is managed and governed.

In his report, he said, “The potential reintroductions of wolves, lynx and bears to Britain and Ireland after absences of centuries, or even millennia, is one of the most controversial agri-environmental topics of the century.

“Despite the many social, economic and environmental benefits extolled by supporters of reintroductions, the costs and challenges are also significant, with many likely to be borne by livestock farmers. Few studies have considered their perspectives to date.”

In addition to interviews and visits with agricultural and rewilding representatives, Jonny also developed a ‘Reintroduction Coexistence Framework’ to encapsulate and visualise the complex dimensions of the topic, which he also shares and discusses in the report.

“Large carnivore reintroductions are likely to be complex, contested and costly endeavours, whether with lynx, or, to an even greater extent, with wolves and bears. The primary challenge with all three species is likely to be the management and governance of coexistence with livestock farming, particularly of sheep,” he continued.

“The qualitative findings from this report suggest that there is a degree of consensus, among both farming and rewilding representatives alike, about the scope and scale of these challenges, with both groups citing the varied political, economic, social, legal and environmental dimensions. However, agricultural interviewees were more likely to stress the potential negative consequences of reintroductions.”

Read the study, Large carnivore reintroductions to Britain and Ireland: farmers’ perspectives and management options

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