SPECIES of mammals, birds, fish and insects, which were once common in Limerick are now in danger of local extinction, according to Green Party councillor Séan Hartigan.
Speaking to the Limerick Post this week, Cllr Hartigan pointed to the lesser horseshoe bat which is near threatened on a European scale and has a small Limerick population with the largest numbers in Curraghchase Forest Park.
Limerick Bat Group and Bat Conservative Ireland are now working to preserve the species.
“Fish species, particularly those that spend part of their life at sea such as the sea lamprey, salmon and eel are impacted by climate change, water pollution and barriers on rivers. This is a serious issue in Limerick with Parteen Weir and Ardnacrusha Power Station having a devastating effect on fish numbers in the Shannon,” Cllr Hartigan claimed.
“Salmon numbers in the Shannon are artificially boosted by the ESB through their hatchery at Parteen Weir. In recent years they are having difficulty catching enough parent brood stock to maintain numbers.”
Cllr Hartigan went onto say that, nationwide, over 100 native plants are endangered, with Limerick already having lost many of these.
“Some are just about surviving with rare species like bog rosemary, cranberry and great sundew maintaining a perilous existence in degraded habitats like Castleconnell bog and Scotland bog.
“Rare meadow barley, bee orchids and great burnet are escaping the pressure of intensive farming because they are close to industry in places like Aughinish and Raheen business park. The Limerick branches of Irish Wildlife Trust and the botanical society of Britain and Ireland have recently started working with industry to try to maintain habitat for plants and associated insect species,” the City East representative revealed.
Cllr Hartigan says that many breeding birds of farmland and bog habitats continue to fare very poorly.
“Almost 40 per cent of red-listed breeding birds are associated with farmland. In Limerick we have lost populations of corncrake and breeding curlew and are in danger of losing lapwing, barn owl, kestrel, snipe and many more. ”
Cllr Hartigan encouraged anyone with an interest in maintaining and improving biodiversity in Limerick to join one or more of the volunteer-led conservation organisations such as Irish Wildlife Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Limerick Bat group and the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.