Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Wild animal plan objection mooted

Three wolves would be released into an enclosure

A proposal to create a reserve for wolves, wildcat and elk on a Highlands estate faces opposition from a group representing climbers and walkers.

Alladale Estate, at Ardgay in Sutherland, has alerted Highland Council of its intention to apply for a zoo licence for the project.

It already has elk and wild boar, but wants to introduce other wild animals.

The Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) is consulting its membership on objecting on land access grounds.

Chief officer David Gibson said the organisation wanted to get members' views before lodging an objection with Highland Council.

He said animal enclosures could stop walkers using the land.

Alladale Estate has played a leading role in reintroducing wild animals such as beavers and elk to "controlled areas" in Scotland.

The new plans include four European wolf and eight wildcats.

General manager Hugh Fullerton-Smith said the proposal involved existing enclosures on 520 acres out of a 23,000 acre estate.

The project will help support Alladale's 18 full-time staff.

He said a long-term ambition was to release two wolf packs in a secure area.

However, Mr Fullerton-Smith said this would require collaboration from neighbouring estates to make available 50,000 acres for the animals.

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