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Don't introduce wolves into the wild, says Shropshire farmer

By Tom Oakley | Ludlow | Farming | Published:

Introducing wolves and other predators into the wild would significantly harm the sheep industry, a Shropshire farming leader has said.

Wolves in Austria

Richard Yates, who farms cattle and sheep near Bridgnorth, will be part of a panel tonight discussing how comfortable the county would be with 'rewilding'.

It comes after wolves have been introduced in the Scottish highlands, beavers in Devon and wild boar in the Forest of Dean.

Ahead of the evening, which is taking place at Ludlow Assembly Rooms from 7.30pm, the former president of the NFU in Shropshire said he believes it would be a bad idea from the point of few of the county's farmers.

Mt Yates said: "Dog attacks on sheep is something I have to worry about a lot. I've had plenty in the past and it's estimated that 150,000 were attacked in this country last year.

"Hence why any additional predators in the environment will call for any local shepherd to be concerned.

"Farming in this country is entering a fork in the road, if we have a bad Brexit it may decimate the sheep industry depending on what deals are done. So any addiotnal factors that would harm the sheep industry would concern me."

Mr Yates will join other wildlife experts, enthusiasts and authors who are gathering together with theatre group Pentabus Theatre Company, based in Bromfield, near Ludlow for the An Evening About Rewilding event.

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It is ahead of the group's next production Wolves Are Coming For You, which is about to start rehearsals and gets to grip with the subject.

He added: "Some say how wonderful this would be for tourism, but we have increasing population, we're taking land out of production to build roads and infrastructure, but we still have to feed our nation. We need to secure, reliable and traceable food.

"I'm expecting a challenging evening, I've been involved in agriculture all my life and can tell what it's like at farm level having kept sheep for years.

"It's always always good to take an opportunity to defend, challenge and promote our industry."

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The evening will be chaired by award-winning south Shropshire landscape and wildlife photographer and author Andrew Fusek Peters.

Pentabus' artistic director Sophie Motley said: "Pentabus are delighted to be connecting with the issues which inspired our autumn tour.

"We've got an exciting panel of different thoughts, opinions and interests and it looks like it will be a brilliant, engaging and forthright evening."

Giving different perspectives on the contentious subject will be panel members including author Jay Griffiths whose most recent works include Wild: An Elemental Journey, and Kith:

The Riddle of the Childscape; Anthony Haighway, wildlife enthusiast and founder of Wolf Watch UK, which has a sanctuary on the south Shropshire border with Mid Wales and rewilding expert Alicia Leow-Dyke, Welsh beaver project officer from Radnorshire Wildlife Trust.

Olivier award nominee playwright Joel Horwood will also be there discussing the inspiration behind his new play, Wolves Are Coming For You, commissioned by Pentabus, which will be touring nationally this autumn.

It comes as five landowners in Mid Wales have said they would consider taking part in a project to re-introduce lynx into the country.

In 2015, the Lynx UK Trust put out a plea for anyone who would be willing to allow their land to be used and now they say five landowners have come forward.

The conservation group has submitted plans to re-introduce the Eurasian lynx to Kielder Forest in Northumberland on a five-year trial period. If approved, it would import six of the cats from Sweden.

If the Lynx UK Trust wanted to bring the animals to Wales, it would have to apply for a special licence from Natural Resources Wales.

However, the plans have been met with objection from the National Sheep Association who fear the animals would pose a threat to sheep.

Tom Oakley

By Tom Oakley
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist

Shropshire Star reporter responsible for the covering Telford and Bridgnorth and the surrounding areas. Got a story? Email tom.oakley@shropshirestar.co.uk or call 01952 241457.

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