English multi-millionaire Paul Lister intends to bring back two animals the United Kingdom has not seen for hundreds of years. According to The Independent, Lister will be reintroducing brown bears and European wolves to the Alladale Wilderness Reserve in northeastern Scotland, which he bought in 2003.
“Over 90 per cent [sic] of philanthropy is concerned with humanitarianism and just one per cent is concerned with nature and the environment. We need to stop thinking about ourselves and be more sympathetic to other creatures. If we don’t change the way we have been living we don’t stand much chance,” Lister explained.
The large population of red deer on the preserve is proving to be detrimental to area restoration efforts and officials have discussed using predators to cull the deer before. Lister pointed to the successful reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park as a great inspiration.
“Before the wolves returned the number of [deer] was soaring, despite human attempts to control them, because there had been nothing to hunt them,” he said.
Lister’s ambitious plans are not without opposition from politicians and local hiking organizations, who are worried that the return of these species will provide a dangerous hazard when venturing near the area. Critics also say that reintroduction could violate Scotland’s 2003 Land Reform Act, which gives all citizens unhindered access to most of the land in the country.
Lister told The Herald that he does not intend to releasing the animals into the wild but instead they will be contained inside the reserve, a point that has reassured local farmers. In addition, he proposed that the reserve might eventually become a profitable and economically beneficial source of tourism for the area.
“At Alladale we believe that wolves and bears will create a huge attraction for Scotland’s tourism industry, especially in a region where livestock farming and deer stalking offer little in the way of employment,” Lister said.
Lister, who is the heir to the MFI Group furniture company and its vast retail empire, plans on bringing about 20 wolves and 12 bears to Alladale. Wolves have been extinct in the United Kingdom for 300 years and bears even longer than that.