Online library: The wolf, bear and lynx in Durham and Northumberland

We’re digging into our archive and library to share with you a range of publications that take an in-depth look at nature in the North East. Covering all areas of natural history, we hope these will provide North East naturalists with some thought-provoking reading material while time in the great outdoors is restricted.

You can read previous releases about Ring-necked Parakeets and beetles at Gosforth Nature Reserve by following these links.

For the next post in this series, we’re pleased to share a Northumbrian Naturalist paper by Terry Coult, who takes a closer look at the historical evidence of three large, extinct carnivores in Northumberland and Durham. The reintroduction of large predators to the UK is a topical subject and we hope you will enjoy the opportunity to delve deeper into the history of bears, wolves and lynx in our region.


The archaeological and historical evidence for the three recently extinct large mammalian carnivores of Durham and Northumberland is appraised and discussed with reference to former distribution, possible reasons for and dates of their extirpation, as well as their cultural links to contemporary human society.

The mammal’s amphibians and reptiles of the North East (Bond 2012) contains a summary of the archaeological and historical evidence for Lynx (Lynx lynx), Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) and Wolf (Canis lupus) in Northumberland and Durham. What follows is a reconsideration of the data, some new data, some cultural references, and some thoughts on why and when all three were finally extirpated in the two counties. There is a growing debate about reintroducing predators that were extirpated by humans so it is perhaps timely to review why and when these three became extinct in the North East.

Read the full paper