preview

Wolves In The Highlands

Satisfactory Essays
Should wolves be reintroduced to the Scottish Highlands?

In the mid eighteenth century the wolf completely disappeared from the Scottish Highlands. In the 1960s came a proposal to bring them back. So why hasn’t it happened yet? The idea only gained wider publicity after the reintroduction of the grey wolf to Yellowstone National Park in the USA in 1995 and since then has been debated and even nearly happened. The reintroduction of the wolf and also eventually bears and lynx would be greatly beneficial to the biodiversity and tourism of Scotland. All that needs to be done is to educate people and get rid of the ‘big, bad wolf’ persona.
The post ice-age Scottish environment evolved with large predators that kept the biodiversity in balance. The wolves, bears and lynx lived alongside herbivores such as deer, horses, cattle, wild boar and elk. These herbivores either ate tree seedlings, keeping open meadows from being forested, or foraged on the understory of trees, keeping it open for a wide variety of plants which in turn provided food for many species. When humans began to clear forests and hunt both herbivores and carnivores, they tipped the balance and wolves, bears and lynx along with wild boar and elk were lost from the Scottish Highlands. With no natural predators, red deer numbers drastically increased; this contributed to an already fast destruction of the forests as the deer ate the seedlings and therefore inhibited natural regeneration. Scotland has now lost over 90% of forest cover necessary for many endangered species.
Today, a lot of money is spent on deer culls and also putting up electric fences to stop deer from getting at saplings. Firstly these fences cause visual pollution, as the countryside is often littered w...

... middle of paper ...

...ith the many benefits it will bring to Scotland, then perhaps their attitudes will change. Even though this would be a difficult task it would be the biggest step towards reintroducing the wolf.
A few years ago there were plans to keep four wolves in a secure enclosure at the Alladale Estate across 50,000 acres but the plans were scrapped in the interests of the animals’ welfare. Even though this plan never went through, it proves that the issue is being fully considered. The Alladale Estate already has elk and wild boar, and the beaver and sea eagle have been successfully reintroduced to the Scottish countryside. When is it the wolves’ turn? The benefits the wolf would bring to Scotland are both economic and environmental. The only thing stopping their reintroduction is society’s negative perception of the wolf; and the general lack of ambition to make it happen.
Get Access