The last wild wolf in Scotland was shot dead in 1680.

Now there are plans to bring wolves back.

What do we think of that?

Well, it’s a fascinating issue and one that gets to the heart of what the outdoors and the natural wilderness environment are all about.

Should they be preserved ‘in aspic’, largely for the benefit of those who currently enjoy the wilderness, or should they be returned to their original state, before humans controlled and changed things?

It’s a tricky one.

The owner of the Alladale estates, 50 miles north of Inverness is Paul Lister. Since buying the land in 2003 he’s slowly started to create a wilderness reserve. He’s reintroduced wild boar and elk onto his estate and now he wants wild wolves to roam free.

Well, to a point.

Inspired by the release of wolves in Yellowstone Park, his plan is to allow them complete freedom within a 50,000 acres area that will be fenced off.

He argues that this is true conservation, and that most landowners in the Highlands of Scotland are more interested in managing the land to milk the lucrative hunting industry, rather than create and preserve the natural environment.

The counter argument is that wild wolves are probably a step too far, and too soon. Although a 9 foot fence would be in place, what would happen if it was breached? Wolves have no predator so how will they be managed? And would it also mean limiting access to Glen Alladale and Glen Mor to hikers and nature lovers generally?

The Wolves and Humans Foundation , a UK charity dedicated to the preservation of wolves, lynx an other large European carnivores, takes the middle way: it argues that before wolves are returned to Scotland, efforts should be concentrated on restoring them to other areas of continental Europe.

Lister’s plans have been mooted for some time. He’s now trying to speed things up, saying he wants a firm plan in place by the end of 2018.

The problem for Lister is that his vision and determination is matched by a wide range of lobbies and interests who don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with him on this issue.
Ultimately, only Scottish Nature has the power and clout to make this happen, and it’s very unlikely they will give the go-ahead for such a bold and controversial scheme.

It’s a story worth following…watch this space.

Are wolves coming back to Scotland?
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