Saturday, March 2, 2024

Hen harriers near extinction in Ireland

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The fifth survey of Irish harriers conducted in 2022 and published by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) reveals a shocking decline in the population of this iconic bird of prey. .

Only 85 pairs of harriers were confirmed across the country, the most serious decline of any national survey to date.



Harrier chickens continue to suffer shocking declines in Ireland (Ian Bollen).

The study was carried out by a partnership between the Golden Eagle Trust, the Irish Raptor Research Group and Birdwatch Ireland on behalf of the NPWS. As with previous surveys, the 2022 national survey will receive enthusiastic support from a deep network of independent surveyors, including birders, farmers, wildlife rangers, foresters, and biologists, and will employ 250 people. More than 7,700 field workers spent 7,700 hours investigating.

Despite these collective efforts, the harrier is on the verge of extinction. The current number of breeding pairs nationwide in 2022 is estimated to be 85 to 106, which is a one-third decrease from the 2015 survey that recorded 108 to 157 pairs, and compared to the previous survey. It has decreased by 27%.

Since the first national survey from 1998 to 2000, the species has declined by a total of 59%. At the current rate of decline, the population is expected to become extinct within 25 years, and fewer than 50 breeding pairs may remain within the next 10 years.

Hen Harrier Special Reserve Fails

In 2007, Ireland designated six highland areas as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) based on their national importance for breeding harriers at the time, as required under the EU Birds Directive. A 2022 survey revealed that harrier populations in five of these hot springs have declined by 20% to 80% since then. Overall, the SPA population declined by more than half (54%) over the same period.

John Rusby, bird of prey conservation officer at Birdwatch Ireland, who co-ordinated the survey with project partners, said: “At this stage we have reached a crisis point and the situation could not be more serious and if we want to deal with it we will If so, we need to act accordingly.” There is no hope that the harrier will not become extinct in our lifetime.

“Harriers are one of Ireland’s best-studied bird species. We know the main reasons why harrier populations have declined to such low levels. , the land use changes that have resulted in the loss of harrier habitat in Ireland.” Reforestation of important habitat for harriers and other wildlife in and around special reserves, associated forest management activities and wind energy development. Due to pressure disturbances, our plateaus are greatly affected. Our uplands are some of the most important areas for biodiversity and we are now seeing the real impact that poor upland spatial planning and management is having on harrier populations. ”

Oona Duggan, Birdwatch Ireland’s advocacy director, said: ‘We know what we have to do to save this species, and the government knows what it has to do. However, no action has been taken. The government recently published a draft threat response plan for the harrier.”Public consultations have taken 10 years, during which time the species has declined by a third. “Action is vague and lacks ambition. It is not enough. This is a litmus test for the government and its new National Biodiversity Action Plan.” The goal is to stop the deterioration of %.

“We will soon be launching a campaign to help the public help save the flying harrier from extinction. Habitat restoration activities in these critical areas must also be protected from wind energy development. We need a plan.”



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