IN response to your article "Landowners agree to host trial reintroduction of lynx" (The Herald, August 9) let’s focus on facts rather than rhetoric and direct readers towards the Norwegian experience.

On a study trip to Norway last autumn, an NFU Scotland delegation heard that, in 2016, Norwegian authorities paid out compensation on 20,000 sheep lost to predators. Of the sheep killed in Norway, wolverine accounted for around 34 per cent of losses with the lynx, bear and wolf accounting for 21 per cent, 15 per cent and nine per cent respectively.

Feverish press coverage of proposals to reintroduce lynx to Kielder Forest on the border between Scotland and England has seen a welcome commitment in public from Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy Fergus Ewing that he would never support such a reintroduction.

Through its membership of the National Species Reintroduction Forum (NSRF) in Scotland, NFU Scotland has sought and received assurances from Natural England – the body assessing the application for a trial reintroduction of lynx to Kielder – that the NSRF would be consulted on the proposals.

In early 2018, NFU Scotland made its views known directly to Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove as he, rather than Natural England, will make the final decision on the current trial reintroduction application.

Predation in Norway has reduced over the past 10 years – not because of fewer predators, but the fact that hill farmers have simply stopped keeping sheep. The Norwegian NFU believe that around 1,000 hill farmers have given up in the last decade as they simply cannot carry on at the levels of predation.

The Norwegians told us that to reintroduce predators into our country would be an absolute catastrophe. Their experience has simply strengthened our resolve.

Martin Kennedy,

Vice President, NFU Scotland,

Rural Centre, West Mains, Ingliston, Newbridge, Edinburgh.