DUBLIN, Ireland: Wildlife advocates in Ireland are calling for reintroducing lynx into the wild to help control the nation's growing deer population.
However, one farming organization has come out against the proposal, noting that the lynx will threaten their livestock.
Author Eoghan Daltun said that returning lynx to Ireland could help reduce the populations of a number of invasive species, including Sika deer.
"Sika deer were introduced here in the 19th century and have become highly over-populated. The result of that is wild native habitats, like forests, are completely grazed bare so they are not able to reproduce," he said, as quoted by RTE.
"If we had lynx back it would help bring balance back in so many ways, by regulating the behavior and numbers of grazers like sika deer and feral goats, but also.fox and the invasive American mink."
However, John Joe Fitzgerald of the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers Association opposes the return of the lynx.
"If this lynx can kill a big deer, it can also kill a sheep or a cow. I'm a sheep farmer and we have enough predators here already in the form of the foxes and the grey crow," he said, as reported by RTE.
"To have the likes of this fella roaming around at lambing time, killing more lambs, killing sheep, and you have young calves out in fields I mean who's going to be the predator to this animal if they bring it in? It's all wrong," he added.
Experts believe the lynx roamed Ireland, until becoming extinct 1,300 years ago.
Also, there is frequent mention of lynx in Ireland's oral tradition.
Also warning against introducing lynx, Damien Hannigan from the Irish Deer Commission claims that though the average Eurasian lynx weighs 50 pounds, it might not be able to kill most large deer species found in Ireland. Instead, lynx attacks might lead to large numbers of wounded deer.
"As a small country with intensive agriculture and our largest national park just 35,000 acres, habitat for the introduction of this predator is not feasible," he said, according to RTE.
In recent years, the lynx has been reintroduced in the south of France, Spain and Romania.