Shockwaves are sent through the country, as we continue to hear that the Irish Curlew is on the brink of becoming extinct.
The iconic bird species was once well-known through the island, as upland pastures and bogs became their habitat.
The species however is faced with a worrying future.
If no efforts are made or no emergency action is undertaken, it is looking like the species will become extinct between the next five to ten years.
A Declining Population
One of our most iconic bird species has been in danger for some time. It isn’t a problem that has only recently come to the fore.
Hugh losses in recent years have caused alarm bells to start ringing.
The species has been red-listed by the IUCN since 2007.
According to BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland was home to 5,000 pairs in the 1980’s.
Surveys published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 2015 and 2016, shows how numbers have rapidly declined to a worrying number, with just over one hundred pairs.
Habitat wipe-outs in upland areas are believed to be responsible for this notable decline.
Peat bog destruction, afforestation and intensive farming practices are among just some of the key issues that have been identified as a contribution to their decline.
The unimproved conditions of grassland; with rushes and undrained pastures, have not provided favourable conditions.
A decline of 86% in over the last twenty-five years has occurred, according to Coast Monkey.
The remaining few Irish Curlew are to be found in boglands in areas of conversation including North, Co. Monaghan, Stacks Mountains, Lough Ree, North Roscommon or Leitrim area and Donegal.
If this continues to occur, the future of the Irish Curlew is not looking very promising.
Many surpass their true value, as a species, that possess such significance.
As recent, as last Friday 18th August 2017, survey findings were finally unveiled and the results were far from positive.
As part of the Halting Environmental Loss Project, a study was conducted in order to identify the facts that are impacting the Curlew’s decline in Ireland.
Donegal and Mayo boasted good breeding numbers in the year 19988-1991, however feedback from recent visitations didn’t prove to be as positive.
60 sites were visited in the early Spring, as part of the last Breeding Atlas, with only six still possessing breeding parts.
Four pairs were recorded in Donegal and four in Mayo, with now less than 200 breeding pairs, in total to be found around the emerald isle.
It has been reported that the decline figure has even increased to a worrying 97%, while it did once sat at 86%.
Predation; particularly associated with foxes and a decline in habitat quality, have been found to be responsible for the breeding failure.
Saving the Curlew
Identified as one of Ireland’s most threatened species, strategies are now on the cards.
Measures are being put in place, but Alan Lauder, Chief Executive of BirdWatch Ireland has stated that ‘the remaining funds are not adequate to take the action needed to identify the remaining pairs and put measures in place to protect them.’
The funds to date have been utilised in order to conduct the breeding survey.
Earlier this year, The Department of Arts and Heritage announced an investment of €100,000, as part of preservation efforts.
Organisations are now creating programmes in order to assist.
The general public is being asked to report any sightings of the species.
BirdWatch Ireland has launched a Curlew appeal in order to launch a programme to help the Irish Curlew to climb up the ranks again.
Support Cry of the Curlew here.
Earlier this year, a conference was hosted, with attendance from 100 scientists and conservationists from across Ireland and the UK to discuss the many roadblocks facing the Curlew.
The next decade will test the Curlew population in Ireland and we can only hope that one of Ireland’s most iconic birds will not be disappearing anytime soon.Listen to the song of the Curlew here!