Alladale Esate in Sutherland has axed plans to keep four wolves in a secure enclosure. The plan had been to import the wolves from Romania and keep them in a relatively small enclosure but this has now been shelved because of concerns about the animal’s welfare. The Estate had originally planned to keep two entire wolf packs across 50,000 acres which would have involved the use of land from neighbouring estates but these plans were scaled back. The Estate, owned by MFI heir, Paul Lister, says that it still plans to keep wolves in the future but that the current plans have been dropped in the interests of the animals’ welfare, although the plan to keep European bison on the land will go ahead.
The BBC reports that general manager Hugh Fullerton-Smith said, “We studied very carefully small enclosures throughout Britain and to be frank we weren’t comfortable about bringing them into very small enclosures on welfare grounds.”
The Estate says that its long term plans are for a wildlife reserve involving the introduction of species once native in the UK. The estate currently has a dangerous animals icence to keep wild boar and European Elk inside fenced enclosures. The enclosures have caused concern for the Highland Council’s Access Officer, Matt Dent, who objected to the renewal of Alladale’s licence under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in February on the grounds that the fences restricted people’s access rights.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS), which has concerns about access at Alladale, has previously said the licensing committee’s decision was disappointing. The MCofS has acknowledged that the area is important for mountaineers and that it is concerned that future expansion of the plans at Alladale will end up with an application to exempt Alladale from access rights enshrined in the 2003 right to roam legislation.