Shooting of escaped lynx long overdue, says farmers' union

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The shooting and killing of an escaped lynx "was long overdue" given the danger to people and livestock, the Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW) has said.

Releasing a picture of seven sheep believed to have been killed by Lillith, who had been missing from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberystwyth since October 29, the FUW defended Ceredigion Council's decision that it should be killed after it "strayed over to a populated area of the community".

Lillith, who was an 18-month-old Eurasian lynx and twice the size of a domestic cat, was killed on Friday night after the local authority received advice from a specialist veterinary surgeon that the risk to public well-being had increased from moderate to severe.

Park staff said that the animal did not pose a threat to humans and were "devastated and outraged" by what had happened.

But a spokesman for the FUW said the escaped animal was suspected to have killed seven sheep within a few hundred yards of Borth in Ceredigion, west Wales.

"In an ideal world the lynx would have been quickly recaptured, but this did not happen," he said.

"Given the risk to people and livestock, action to remove such a danger was long overdue.

"Had the animal not been allowed to escape in the first place, this situation would not have arisen, and it seems a number of our member's livestock would not have been attacked and killed."

The Farmers' Union of Wales released a picture of seven dead sheep believed to have been killed by the lynx (Farmers' Union of Wales/PA)
The Farmers' Union of Wales released a picture of seven dead sheep believed to have been killed by the lynx (Farmers' Union of Wales/PA)

The FUW said it had written to the Welsh Government and the local Police Commissioner last week to express its concerns that the danger the animal posed was not being taken seriously.

"Despite being around the size of a sheepdog, an animal like this will routinely kill animals much bigger than itself, and the fact it was used to humans increased the risk it posed to the public," said the FUW spokesman.

"Some have already expressed their outrage over the shooting, but the public reaction would have been far greater had the animal attacked an adult or child, as has happened elsewhere."

See the latest statement from Ceredigion County Council in regards to Lillith, the Lynx: https://t.co/vqPXCvza6f

-- Ceredigion Council (@CeredigionCC) November 13, 2017

Ceredigion Council said the decision had been taken to humanely destroy the wild animal after the risk it posed to the public increased to "severe" following failed attempts to recapture it.

The FUW also questioned plans to reintroduce lynx in the Kielder Forest region of Northumberland after it was announced in July that the Lynx UK Trust had submitted an application to reintroduce six of the animals on a trial basis.

The trust said there are no recordings of attacks on humans by healthy, wild Eurasian lynx anywhere in the world. It also says the animals have a very low impact on livestock, with lynx in Europe killing, on average, less than one sheep every two years.