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In any case, if you come from the countryside as I do, then you'll always be interested in debates about it and the national parks. I'm very aware of modern countryside issues, such as rewilding, how as science progresses we begin to understand that a healthy ecosystem is multiform. Yet we have no big predators left so I'm interested in all of those questions because the Lake District is a very cultivated wilderness. It's not for me to say because I'm not Scottish and I don't live in Scotland anymore but I'm always very, very excited when a country says it can do better politically and socially in terms of equality.

That conversation is lacking in England and, if you come from the edges of England, you have more in common with Scotland. If you come from Cumbria, you look to Edinburgh and Glasgow because you feel much closer to Scotland. I find the whole debate thrilling. I can't believe how, whenever I go back to Scotland to stay with friends and my godmother, conversations always revert to politics. It's a complicated issue; Scotland faces massive challenges economically, the way England and Wales do.

It's exciting that things can be done regarding land reform. Wolf-watching, too! Romania makes a lot of money out of ecotourism, for instance. I'm really interested in all these new revenue ecostreams that Scotland could possibly lead in. But, hey, I'm not a politician! Hall finished writing her novel before the referendum. I finished the final copy-editing in mid-August - my daughter was born a week later.

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I knew the book would either be predictive or counter-factual. In the end it's counter-factual," she laughs. My second biggest worry, apart from the wolves and the politics, was whether I'd got the motherhood stuff right, because I hadn't been through it. As well as all her pregnancy research, Hall did "a phenomenal amount" of wolf research.

The answer is in about 20 seconds! I'd love to be a wolf biologist. I'm quite feral anyway. Somehow, Hall has made big politics and wolves sexy - she is, in any case, a very sexy writer as she has proved in novels such as The Electric Michelangelo, which to her surprise is adored in France, and her brilliant short story collection, The Beautiful Indifference. They are muscled and glossy like athletes.

It's about inter-species attraction, I suppose. I don't mean bestiality, but I do get a strange thrill out of looking at them. And, yes, wolves are not, as Angela Carter has it, hairy on the inside, unlike some men.

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As for writing about sex, she enjoys the challenge. Some think it's too difficult, too risky.


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But it's a great human transaction. It really does do some extreme things to people. It's also a mundane, habitual thing. You can't not write about it. She'll be writing about it again - as she will about Cumbria. What about motherhood? Will that make her a better novelist? I hope it'll make me more organised. For now, though, it's certainly made me much more messy. We may then apply our discretion under the user terms to amend or delete comments. Post moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours.

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The BBC absolutely loves rewilding, of course, and sends a camera crew to interview whichever loon is standing on a moor advocating the introduction of ravening beasts. The campaigners are everywhere. They present a very low risk to people… They are a tourist draw despite being shy creatures that avoid people where possible…We would have to manage livestock differently if wolves were present.

There would need to be compensation schemes for the small number of livestock losses that would result. Have they dropped acid while watching Dances With Wolves? These people bang on about how re-introducing wolves transformed eco-systems in Yellowstone National Park, but Yellowstone is a 3, square mile wilderness. You can tinker with ecosystems by setting loose predators in that kind of space without them eating too many schoolchildren.

Clearly, the only coherent argument for re-introducing big cats and wolves to Britain might be to wipe out large numbers of deer in areas where deer are out of control. But why do the left suddenly want to have wild dogs tear Bambi limb from limb?

Perhaps, they feel it is a more natural way to die than from a gun. As I say, there is no logic. Unless you consider that rewilding is yet another outbreak of class warfare. Rewilding is in direct opposition to land management. And who manages land?


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The toffs. If you set enough big cats and wolves free to eat deer, pheasant, hare and salmon, you make the countryside a no-go area for hunting, shooting, fishing, riding — anything posh people do for fun.


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  8. By releasing as many vicious carnivores as possible, you make it a pretty inconvenient place for the rural community, and, more importantly, for the landed gentry. But there is a snag. You make life awful for the animals, too. Attempts at rewilding, primarily in Holland, have resulted in the most horrendous cruelty. In this rewilding experiment, the area saw no wildlife management.

    Rewilding is deadly serious for the poor creatures who have to suffer it. Possibly, the rewilders want to return us to the primordial soup. If George Monbiot, author of Feral, the rewilding bible, could get hold of dinosaur DNA, presumably he would reintroduce megalosauruses to Oxfordshire because they were there first. But it would be a mistake to think that rewilding is a wild idea going nowhere.

    Should we reintroduce large predators (such as wolves, lynx & bears) to control fox numbers?

    It is already being subtly established in principle in the way some trusts manage public land. Where I ride, Surrey Wildlife closes off a large section of the main bridleway on Ockham Common every summer to help adders and other reptiles to breed. The place looked like Armageddon, a burnt, smoking wasteland.

    And the adjoining M25, never all that audible, was now a deafening roar because of the lack of sound barrier once provided by the forested areas.

    Dances with Wolves (Highland Wolves, #1) by Mandy Monroe

    James Delingpole. Paul Dacre. Claire Fox. Douglas Murray. Matthew Parris. Richard Dawkins. Katy Balls. Matthew Taylor. Lucy Vickery. Chris Daw QC. James Forsyth.