Wolves may make a Highland comeback in laird’s reserve plan to apply for zoo licence
Published Date: 19 December 2009
By JOHN ROSS
WOLVES, not seen in the wild in Scotland for hundreds of years, could be ready for a comeback on a Highland estate.
The Alladale Estate near Ardgay in Sutherland has announced it is to seek a zoo licence within the next two months so it can let the animals roam in a wilderness reserve. It is the latest move by estate owner Paul Lister, who plans to release a series of wild animals in enclosures on the estate.
Reserve manager Hugh Fullerton-Smith announced his intention to apply to Highland Council for the licence in an advert in a local paper.
European elk and wild boar are already housed in enclosures on the 23,000-acre estate. If the licence is granted, they will be joined by eight European wildcats and three European wolves.
Both Mr Lister and Mr Fullerton-Smith were unavailable for comment yesterday.
Mr Lister, son of Noel Lister, the co-founder of the MFI furniture chain, bought Alladale in 2003 and had indicated his intention of introducing Scotland’s “big five” to the area – grey wolves, brown bear, lynx, boar and bison.
Two years ago, the estate gained a Dangerous Wild Animal Licence to keep elk and wild boar in specially constructed enclosures.
In application papers sent to the council, Mr Fullerton-Smith said: “The Alladale Wilderness Reserve facility will be unlike any present conventional UK zoo, both in types of enclosures it uses and the way in which only a limited number will view the animals.”
The animals will be housed in three separate, fenced areas complete with shelters and service buildings. The wolves will be fed on a range of natural carcasses and game off-cuts, and the reserve will be surrounded by a 37-mile electric fence.
Only guests staying at Alladale will be allowed on to the reserve. The maximum daily number of visitors will be 35, although school parties are expected to increase that to about 70 on some days.
A public consultation will be carried out. Mr Lister
says the reserve would create 75 to 100 jobs. He believes Alladale could benefit from the eco-tourism market.
Dave Morris of Ramblers Scotland said: “We expect to oppose the issue of this zoo licence. Approving it would prevent people exercising their statutory rights of access over a large area of land.”
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org