Costs and benefits

Scottish farmers have been told that reintroducing lynx or wolves in Scotland would be “an absolute catastrophe”.

A study visit to Norway by a delegation from the National Farmers’ Union, (NFU) Scotland comes as moves to introduce the wild cat species north of the border gather pace.

The delegation heard that more than 20,000 sheep had been killed by predators such as lynx in Norway in the past year alone.

Hmm.

The Norway delegation heard that of all the sheep killed last year, lynx accounted for 21 per cent of losses, compared with 34 per cent for wolverine, 21 per cent for bears and 9 per cent for wolves.

So, 4,000 sheep then.

Out of 700,000 ewes.

0.5% of the population. Is that a lot or a little?

I thought sheep died of near any damn thing whenever they got the chance…..

38 comments on “Costs and benefits

  1. “Scottish farmers have been told that reintroducing lynx or wolves in Scotland would be “an absolute catastrophe”.”

    Which would imply that it’s virtually impossible to be a farmer (particularly a sheep farmer) anywhere where wolves and lynx currently exist in the wild.

    Is that true?

  2. “lynx accounted for 21 per cent of losses, compared with 34 per cent for wolverine”

    That’s Hugh Jackman?

  3. A proper cost and benefit analysis would have to look at the environmental impact (which I would guess is all good – especially if the buggers will go for the Muntjac) and the benefits for tourism. I like Scotland. Despite, you know, the Nats. I would certainly visit more often if they had wolves.

  4. “I thought sheep died of near any damn thing whenever they got the chance…..”

    Some of them even from falling over onto their sides and starving to death next to a massive pile of their own poo cos they can’t get up (saved a couple from this back in the day when we were spending lots of time in Yorkshire).

  5. The obvious answer is to put the lynx and wolves into Glasgow and keep them there, perhaps along with other cities and towns. Edinburgh might benefit from packs of mad dogs, for example. As for Greenock……..

  6. Ewes are not the whole sheep population. What percentage of the losses were newborn lambs?
    Average productive lifetime is 8 to 10 years for a ewe, so turnover is 10-12% p.a. 0.5% is quite small compared to this.

  7. Aren’t our own sheep farmers that incompetent it’s economic to ship the stuff half way across the globe from NZ anyway?

    Post Brexit hopefully packs of wolves will be the least of their problems.

  8. The number may be more relevant to the profit margin (or at least the farmer’s wages) of the farming businesses however.

  9. “Scottish farmers have been told…”

    By whom?

    “A study visit to Norway by a delegation from the National Farmers’ Union…”

    Fuck ’em, and the horse they rode in on.

  10. What JuliaM said.

    Similar to the fuckers who keep killing* birds of prey on their estates. Lots of people want to see golden eagles etc. The increased revenue from these tourists would probably outweigh the small loss from some grouse eaten by these birds. I’d bet more are roadkill but they aren’t stopping cars driving by.

    *sorry, birds of prey happen to be found dead near their estates. All a coincidence.

  11. Jonathan – “Would make life more exciting for ramblers though.”

    I am sure that no one in Scotland would say a thing, but the thought of ramblers having a short but exciting trip through the glens would make even the most dour Western Isle Wee Fee smile.

  12. @ Andrew C
    I Samuel XVII 34-6 “… I am my father’s shepherd ; whenever a lion or bear comes and carries off a sheep from the flock, I go after it and attack it and rescue thevictim from its jaws ….. I have killed lions and bears and this uncircumcised Philistine will fare no better than they; …”
    So I think the answer is that it certainly wasn’t impossible three millennia ago.

  13. Would tourists really go to Scotland for wolf/lynx safaris? I’m skeptical. City people may like the idea of ferocious beasties roaming the countryside, but I doubt that having them out there would actually stimulate tourism.

  14. A sheep farmer of my acquaintance* defines a sheep as: an animal that spends its entire life thinking of new and original ways to get itself killed.

    * I don’t think the sentiment was coined by him.

  15. “defines a sheep as: an animal that spends its entire life thinking of new and original ways to get itself killed.”

    Entirely true.

    However on the issue at hand, as a farmer I’d have no problem with predators being reintroduced, just as long as I’m allowed to shoot them on my private property, if they are killing my livestock. If the State wishes to introduce something that is prejudicial to my business, and prevent me from protecting myself, then it should pay punitive damages as compensation.

    £1000/sheep should do.

  16. “£1000/sheep should do.”

    I could see this being popular with farmers and the stupider politicians, in that it could also act as an ill-considered effective minimum unit price for a sheep if all those post-Brexit New Zealand animals increase supply in the market and cause the price of sheep to drop too much 😉

  17. Not sure how useful those predation figures are. You’re only going to get predator kills where you have both predators & sheep. (To point out the blindingly obvious) Most sheep will be kept in areas not likely to have predators. The kills will be happening in high pastures & other more wild areas. So the losses will bear down proportionally greater on sheep keepers with land in those areas. Possibly hard enough to make sheep keeping unprofitable.
    0.5% may not look a lot. But it would do to a farmer losing 25% of his sheep.

  18. Sheep will quite literally wander over a cliff. I’ve seen the evidence.

    Introducing wolves etc. is all very well but if farmers take measures to protect their livestock (as is entirely reasonable) then the predators will look elsewhere or starve. When cats and dogs start getting eaten the policy might well be viewed less favourably. People are funny like that when it comes to much-loved pets.

  19. Where do red deer feature in this story? Scotland has too many of these suicidal nutters who dash onto B roads just as you’re approaching, and tourism imv would benefit from some reindeer and elk in their place.

  20. The Norway delegation heard that of all the sheep killed last year, lynx accounted for 21 per cent of losses, compared with 34 per cent for wolverine

    Hmm, a conundrum: Wolverine kill and eat Lynx, should they be (re?)introduced too?

    So, 4,000 sheep then. Out of 700,000 ewes.
    0.5% of the population. Is that a lot or a little?

    I thought sheep died of near any damn thing whenever they got the chance…..

    It’s “a little”. Yes, sheep are suicidal, tbh if farmers didn’t grow them they’d probably be an endangered species.

    Shirley says it would be better to do a trial first on an island such as Skye or NI (exclude lynx & wolves from CTA).

  21. You’ll never see a lynx. They had them in the Jura behind our place and no-one ever saw them.

    I did see a wild boar once and ibex, and a neighbour saw a grass snake.

    But lynx don’t operate in the day, are very well camouflaged and operate by stealth.

    They really won’t help tourism. Otters, beavers, puffins etc are what you need.

  22. If you want to re introduce lost creatures why not go for smallpox or even the highland McDonald.
    Meantime why not let the farmers go about their business without clever people.

  23. Cost and benefit analysis needed…

    Costs: sheep killed, farmers pissed off. Possibly pet cats, guinea pigs & rabbits eaten, maybe a few babies get bitten.

    Benefits: Townie eco-warriors get to feel good.

    Yeh – FOAD 🙂

  24. ‘0.5% of the population. Is that a lot or a little?’

    So you introduce members of the RoP to GB. They kill 0.5% of the population. Is that a lot or a little?

    It isn’t your ox being gored, it is the farmers.

    “You’ll never see a lynx.”

    That’s why God invented FoxPro.

  25. Bongo – “Where do red deer feature in this story?”

    British red deer have interbred with other deer species. So from an environmental point of view they are worse than useless. They should be culled. The best we can hope for is enough testing to identify the genetically pure individuals and a humane death for the rest.

    Pcar – “tbh if farmers didn’t grow them they’d probably be an endangered species.”

    They do not naturally shed their wool any more. So after a year or two of no human care, they would all be dead.

    Chester Draws – “Otters, beavers, puffins etc are what you need.”

    What is going on with Britain’s puffin population?

    gareth – “Costs: sheep killed, farmers pissed off. Possibly pet cats, guinea pigs & rabbits eaten, maybe a few babies get bitten.”

    Most countries offer a compensation scheme for animals killed by wolves. It is not unreasonable. Perhaps it might even make hill farming economically viable again.

    “Benefits: Townie eco-warriors get to feel good.”

    Indeed. And as long as they pay, it looks like a win-win to me.

  26. While we are talking about wolves and other predators, which is all well and good, however perhaps the more important predator re-introduction we should all support is the Pine Marten. Because they seem to eat grey squirrels. Wherever they are established, the red squirrel population recovers.

    They have been spreading south from Scotland for the last few decades and are now thought to be in Cumbria and parts of Yorkshire. The Welsh have deliberately brought some in from Scotland. It would be a very good thing if they were re-established in the south. There are plenty of forests in England that could support them.

    So if any of you are talking to a local landlord or your local politician, mention it. One day I hope they will reach all the way to the Isle of Wight.

  27. The Isle of Wight doesn’t have any grey squirrels. It doesn’t have any pine martens, either.

  28. The Isle of Wight doesn’t have any grey squirrels. It doesn’t have any pine martens, either.

    The IoW has been careful never to introduce the furry-tailed rats. Pine Martens preferentially take greys because (it’s alleged) red squirrels are light enough to escape on small twigs that won’t bear the weight of the marten, whereas greys can’t.

  29. What with wind turbines everywhere, sitka spruce forests clothing the once beautiful hills and the midges, rural Scotland has been trashed.

  30. “Where do red deer feature in this story? Scotland has too many of these suicidal nutters who dash onto B roads just as you’re approaching, and tourism imv would benefit from some reindeer and elk in their place.”

    If the point of the exercise is to increase tourism, why piss about with fancy cows? Don’t dick about: get elephants. And Whales. And white sharks. In Loch Ness. Do things properly.

    The IoW is overrun with red squirrels. They are very picturesque. No pine martens, though, as has been pointed out.

    Not any culture, as far as I have ever been able to ascertain.

    Maybe culture draws grey squirrels out?

  31. @So Much For Subtlety, December 20, 2017 at 12:40 am

    …the more important predator re-introduction we should all support is the Pine Marten. Because they seem to eat grey squirrels. Wherever they are established, the red squirrel population recovers.

    So if any of you are talking to a local landlord or your local politician, mention it. One day I hope they will reach all the way to the Isle of Wight.

    Gov’t does not need to do/approve everything. Re-introduce Pine Marten to IoW your area yourself, I would if I lived there.

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