Veteran broadcaster David Attenborough has backed calls for the reintroduction of wolves to the Scottish highlands.
The respected naturalist said that allowing wolves back into the wild would not harm anyone and that the animals had been unfairly demonised over the years.
“I think getting wolves back into the wild cannot harm anyone,” he said.
“They have been demonised over the years, but really they’re gentle and very loyal creatures, whose sole purpose is to survive and look after each other."
Wolves disappeared from the Scottish highlands towards the end of the 18th century when they were hunted to extinction.
Mr Attenborough continued: “There’s no ecological reason not to welcome wolves back - they shouldn’t be in captivity when there’s so much space for them to flourish in the environment.”
Although environmentalists have supported the idea of reintroduction of wolves, any initiative would have to be approved by Scottish Natural Heritage, the body responsible for wildlife and habitats in Scotland.
A spokesperson for the organisation said they had: "no plans to reintroduce wolves to Scotland at this time."
"There are pluses and minuses to reintroducing any species. Wolves could, for example, help reduce deer numbers in Scottish woodlands but, on the other hand, some land use organisations have concerns about the impact of a reintroduction on livestock,” the spokesperson added.
There has been calls to reintroduce wolves to Ireland since they were wiped out in the 1780s but many farmers remain opposed to the idea on the grounds that the wolves would harm their livestock.
There has also been strong resistance from local tourism bodies who fear for the safety of walkers.