Bernard Landgraf via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Bernard Landgraf via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Conservationists Hope to Reintroduce Lynx to the UK

Bernard Landgraf via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Bernard Landgraf via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The nations of the United Kingdom have a lot going for them. They’ve got history, spectacular landscapes, and a unicorn mascot. But they haven’t got lynx, and some find that fact unacceptable. A group of feline conservation experts hope to bring the vanished cats back to the UK within the next ten years.

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) has piercing eyes and black-tufted ears. At about the size and weight of a large terrier, L. lynx is too small to be considered a big cat, but it’s certainly wild, hunting deer and other mid-size mammals for food. Lynx are solitary animals, which means that each adult needs its own territory. Many, many years ago, as human encroachment on lynx habitat increased throughout Europe, populations dwindled and some disappeared. The last time a lynx was seen in England was around the year 700. Which means, according to members of the Lynx UK Trust, it’s time to restore the missing lynx.

Image Credit: David Castor via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Species introduction programs have been around for a while, as people attempt to restore balance to damaged ecosystems. But with so many factors at play, early reintroduction efforts were more likely to fail than succeed. A lot of animals have died because well-meaning conservationists failed to account for unpredictable climate or new human threats.

Each failure is a lesson however, and today’s reintroduction programs are typically more sophisticated and more successful. About a dozen species, from bison to butterflies, have been re-established in the UK alone.

Members of the UK Lynx Trust have good reason to think a reintroduction program could work: It’s already working elsewhere. A captive breeding-and-release program in Spain has tripled lynx populations on the Iberian Peninsula. In 2014 and 2015, 124 captive-bred cats were released into the wild. Less than a year later, the lynx population numbered 400. Programs in Germany are off to a similarly promising start.

There are some hitches, of course. For one thing, the Spanish program focused on the Iberian lynx, not the Eurasian. The two species are quite similar, but they aren’t the same. For another, some UK citizens are less than thrilled with the idea of predators being released into nearby forests. "They're reputed to do a lot of their hunting within a 200–250m area surrounding woodland, and there is an awful lot of grassland grazed by sheep surrounding woodland," National Sheep Association chief executive Phil Stocker told the BBC.

Conservationists insist that the cats want deer, not livestock, and that they would be reluctant to leave the woods. “You will never see Eurasian lynx running across an open field," feline expert Paul O’Donoghue told the BBC.

The Lynx UK Trust is now in the process of identifying potential release sites. Once they’ve found those, the next step will be consulting experts—and the locals—to check if the plan is viable.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
How a Hairdresser Found a Way to Fight Oil Spills With Hair Clippings
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images
Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images

The Exxon Valdez oil tanker made global news in 1989 when it dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the waters off Alaska's coast. As experts were figuring out the best ways to handle the ecological disaster, a hairdresser from Alabama named Phil McCroy was tinkering with ideas of his own. His solution, a stocking stuffed with hair clippings, was an early version of a clean-up method that's used at real oil spill sites today, according to Vox.

Hair booms are sock-like tubes stuffed with recycled hair, fur, and wool clippings. Hair naturally soaks up oil; most of the time it's sebum, an oil secreted from our sebaceous glands, but it will attract crude oil as well. When hair booms are dragged through waters slicked with oil, they sop up all of that pollution in a way that's gentle on the environment.

The same properties that make hair a great clean-up tool at spills are also what make animals vulnerable. Marine life that depends on clean fur to stay warm can die if their coats are stained with oil that's hard to wash off. Footage of an otter covered in oil was actually what inspired Phil McCroy to come up with his hair-based invention.

Check out the full story from Vox in the video below.

[h/t Vox]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Bristly
A New Chew Toy Will Help Your Dog Brush Its Own Teeth
Bristly
Bristly

Few pet owners are willing to sit down and brush their pet's teeth on a regular basis. (Most of us can barely convince ourselves to floss our own teeth, after all.) Even fewer pets are willing to sit calmly and let it happen. But pet dental care matters: I’ve personally spent more than $1000 in the last few years dealing with the fact that my cat’s teeth are rotting out of her head.

For dog owners struggling to brush poor Fido’s teeth, there’s a slightly better option. Bristly, a product currently being funded on Kickstarter, is a chew toy that acts as a toothbrush. The rubber stick, which can be slathered with doggie toothpaste, is outfitted with bristles that brush your dog’s teeth as it plays.

A French bulldog chews on a Bristly toy.
Bristly

Designed so your dog can use it without you lifting a finger, it’s shaped like a little pogo stick, with a flattened base that allows dogs to stabilize it with their paws as they hack at the bristled stick with their teeth. The bristles are coated in a meat flavoring to encourage dogs to chew.

An estimated 80 percent of dogs over the age of 3 have some kind of dental disease, so the chances that your dog could use some extra dental attention is very high. In addition to staving off expensive vet bills, brushing your dog's teeth can improve their smelly breath.

Bristly comes in three sizes as well as in a heavy-duty version made for dogs who are prone to ripping through anything they can get their jaws around. A Bristly stick costs $29 and is scheduled to start shipping in October. Get it here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios