From Angela Hewitt, Whippingham:

Every decade brings a new initiative for nature and the environment, Agenda 21, BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) etc and now it is ‘re-wilding’.

Behind all of this is, I suspect, a group of nature gurus bored with nature, desperate for a nugget of excitement in a subject that has little new to offer. These gurus have travelled the world, taken a photo, made a film, written their book — now what?

Oh, I know, let’s bring the past back to the future and re-introduce some extinct species. Let’s re-wild Britain — including the IW.

I have recently read a beautiful little book by Simon Barnes, sports and nature commentator, called Re-wild Yourself. It is an easy and lyrical read. It gives the layman simple advice on how to get close to nature, safely. Right down to buying waterproof trousers.

It is a sad fact, and I speak from experience having spent the past 14 years heavily involved in nature, that, generally speaking, most people are frightened of nature. It bites, it stings, it is dirty and muddy and you might come out in a rash. When it comes to charity fundraising, nature is at the bottom of the list. Yet nature is now expected to save everyone from their mental health problems.

It is not easy to eradicate the fear of nature when I hear a father telling his daughter to do as she is told or the spider will get her. Or another father telling his children to not go near the water to do some pond dipping because it is dirty. The last thing we naturalists should do is add to those fears.

Re-wilding Britain means the reintroduction of wolves and lynx, golden eagles and to the IW the white-tailed eagle. No matter how much the re-wilders claim they will not cause harm, try telling that to the already frightened.

Re-wilders use the word persecution a great deal and, indeed, to great effect. There are constant stories about the persecution of wildlife in Africa and yet last week we heard on national news that Botswana is going to re-commence the re-issue of licenses to cull elephants for pet food. Why?

Because there are too many. But let’s face it there will never be too many elephants, there were millions of them before ivory hunting. The problem is too many people. Wolves, lynx and eagles were eradicated from Britain as pests because they were a threat to farmers producing food for an increasing population that had to be fed. In 1811, the population of the IW was 22,000. Today it is 138,000 and growing — as it is throughout the UK.

Re-wilding Britain isn’t about the animals — incidentally none of these species are at risk. On the red list they are recorded as “of least concern”. Re-wilding Britain is about nature gurus needing something to do.

So I worry. Re-wilding Britain with these animals makes me fear for the animals. I think you can see where I am going with this discussion. As the wolves, lynx and eagles increase in population they will become pests and like the elephants of Botswana English Nature (the body that issues licences to destroy dormouse habitats) will be issuing licences to cull these innocent creatures forced into a country where they are feared and didn’t ask for it.