The proposed wolf enclosure at Alladale estate

Alladale estate

Background

There are interesting and valid debates to be had about reintroductions of native species.

We believe these should be judged on a case-by-case basis. All reintroductions must follow rigorous public consultations, be based on scientific evidence and led by experts – ideally at Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

Alladale Estate reserve plans

Paul Lister’s much-publicised desire to reintroduce wolves and other predators within a large fenced enclosure on his Alladale Estate in Sutherland causes great concern to Ramblers Scotland. 

In particular, we object to: 

  • The landscape impact

    Mr Lister’s plans include ‘prison-style’ fencing, running for dozens of miles across a beautiful, wild area of Scotland and enclosing as much as 50,000 acres of land. The fence would need to have security measures to prevent sabotage, access tracks to aid its construction and the management of the animals, and be extremely tall; big enough to stop predators walking out over it during the snowy winters often experienced in the Scottish Highlands.

  • Restrictions on public access

    Even if gates were included, the fence would seriously undermine Scotland’s world-renowned public rights of access  – secured under law in 2003. It would create a dangerous precedent for other areas; essentially allowing landowners to ban public access simply by claiming their land as a paid-for reserve. Mr Lister has so far failed to explain how he would continue to allow free, public rights of access to his estate, which includes a Corbett, Càrn Ban, in the Seana Bhràigh range. 

What Mr Lister is proposing is not rewilding as most proponents would recognise it, but instead a large, fenced zoo with major restrictions on public access. 

There is also a legal question mark about the fencing plan. Under the required zoo licence, predators and prey cannot be kept within the same enclosure. Therefore wolves and deer could not coexist, even though it is Mr Lister’s intention that the wolves would assist in keeping deer numbers in check.

Native woodland at Alladale

We support Mr Lister’s ongoing efforts to regenerate native woodland on his estate.

He has carried out an extensive tree-planting programme and reduced grazing pressure to encourage the growth of trees and shrubs, although our preference is for natural regeneration to take place without the use of fences or planting.

The latter approach is working well in other areas, such as Glen Feshie and Creag Meagaidh – where deer numbers are being well managed.

Updated May 2018