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Email: mail@timberwolfinformation.org

UK: Wild wolves could return to Scotland to control deer numbers

ILONA AMOS

Bringing back packs of wild wolves to Scotland has been suggested as a natural solution for controlling increasing numbers of red deer, which are causing a major over-grazing problem in parts of the Highlands.

Bringing back packs of wild wolves to Scotland has been suggested as a natural solution for controlling increasing numbers of red deer, which are causing a major over-grazing problem in parts of the Highlands.

Current high red deer populations are preventing tree growth and ecosystem restoration in certain areas, with more than a third of all native woodlands in poor condition because of herbivore impacts.

Now a team of scientists has found that reintroducing wolves could help keep deer numbers down but they should be kept inside large fenced enclosures and their numbers managed for the move to be most effective.

The researchers say restricting the freedom of the wolves would allow denser populations of the animals to build up, which would make them more efficient at hunting deer.

It would also limit potential encounters with local residents and farm animals.

Dr Christopher Sandom, lecturer in biology at the 
University of Sussex, has a particular interest in rewilding.

He said: “Reintroducing the wolf has long been suggested as part of the solution to large red deer populations but there will always be concerns about how wolves interact with people in any rewilding project like this.

“This research shows that they could actually have an extremely beneficial impact in terms of making the rewilding process more effective.”

The paper suggests that a reintroduction of grey wolves, also known as timber wolves, could also have major benefits for wildlife tourism and associated jobs in Scotland.

Dr Sandom added: “Fences are a common but unpopular tool in biodiversity conservation and would ideally be avoided. But where there are conflicting interests, compromise is needed.

“Fences particularly constrain animal dispersal but as Britain is an island, this is less of a problem.

“A fenced reserve in Scotland could be a fantastic opportunity to return large predators to Britain, ecologically restore a large part of the Scottish Highlands, and promote tourism.”

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