Restoring ecological processes: bringing back the carnivores
In the US, the Wildlands Project is described as one of cores, corridors and carnivores. The large mammalian carnivores such as bear, wolf and lynx are considered essential to wildland. It is not just a matter of natural processes of predation, but central to the whole ethos of wildland. It is a mark of respect, or tolerance, and a willingness to accept some economic loss and personal risk in order to accord a certain sanctity to nature’s ways. In the previous century the wolf was all-but eradicated across the US and the grizzly bear confined to the northern Rocky Mountains; the lynx and the mountain lion suffered equally. Each of these carnivores is now subject to recovery programmes. In Europe there is a definite move in this direction, with active programmes for re-establishing bear and lynx (in France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Poland) and tolerating the return of the wolf (in Norway, Germany, Poland and the Alps). The map in Figure 8.1 shows the current range of the wolf and bear, in Western Europe, and Colour Plate 6 shows the lynx and re-introduction projects. Britain cannot be truly wild whilst these former residents are absent, and we shall see that we cannot now argue that there is no room or that our ecosystems cannot support large carnivores.